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National Parks: Preserving the American Concept of Wilderness

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In “The Trouble of Wilderness,” William Cronon (1995) states the concept of wilderness, historically, is based on the romanticized ideal of the “untamed” frontier that influenced the American expansion ideals in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including the initial

In “The Trouble of Wilderness,” William Cronon (1995) states the concept of wilderness, historically, is based on the romanticized ideal of the “untamed” frontier that influenced the American expansion ideals in the late 1800s and early 1900s, including the initial conservation movement. This idea of wilderness is defined by “empty” lands that needed to be utilized by the civilized Anglo-Americans, or lands that needed to be preserved from human alterations. Wilderness was separate from humans and, therefore, was also thought to be land that had been unaltered by human touch. The disappearing frontier was being turned into farmlands and civilization, so the Anglo-Americans, the ones who culturally viewed undeveloped land as a place for recreation, wished to save the ‘wilderness’ that was not yet being used. But as will be discussed it was in fact being used just not by the Anglo-Americans. This wilderness that they were trying to preserve became the national parks, such as Yellowstone and Yosemite. Under this rationale, Indigenous peoples were forced off the land to create the illusion of these places fitting this romanticized idea of wilderness. This essay examines the national parks in context of this concept of wilderness being free from humans and how national parks rationalized the removal of Indigenous people from these “wild” lands by using this concept of wilderness. Specifically, it uses the history of Yellowstone and Yosemite parks, which are some of the first parks to enter the National Park System, as sites of understanding how the idea wilderness was conceptualized by the American government during the late 1800s as places that are separate from humans. This essay argues that these ideals are based on racist and xenophobic approaches that the early United States government used in regards to relationships with Indigenous people. To discuss these ideas, this paper will examine the language used in early government documents regarding the policies of the national parks along with art and writings from this time period to show how the public and government viewed these national parks and the Indigenous people in the surrounding areas. Particularly, this paper will consider the original documents that established the national parks and the language that was used in these documents. It will then compare these policies from the origins of the national parks to the policies in place now regarding Indigenous people, such as the reparations that are trying to be made in these areas.

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2020-05

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Media Witnessing for Environmental Justice

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Media witnessing and storytelling for environmental justice (EJ) provide an avenue to understand the relationships between “multiple realities of environmental injury” and to analyze “fleeting phenomena with lasting form; thereby transforming phenomena that are experienced in a plurality of lives

Media witnessing and storytelling for environmental justice (EJ) provide an avenue to understand the relationships between “multiple realities of environmental injury” and to analyze “fleeting phenomena with lasting form; thereby transforming phenomena that are experienced in a plurality of lives into publicly recognized history” (Houston, 2012, 419, 422). This creates opportunities to challenge and eradicate the oppressive structures that deem certain individuals and groups disposable and ultimately protect the possessive investment in whiteness. Therefore, for the purposes of EJ, media witnessing creates space for dynamic, citizen-based storytelling which can undermine narratives that promote the life versus economy framework that has perpetuated oppression, injustice, and state sanctioned violence. Media witnessing in an EJ context demonstrates the potential for collective understanding and action, political opportunities, and healing.<br/>This paper is an analysis of the process of media witnessing in regards to the Flint Water Crisis and the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and will apply an EJ lens to this phenomenon. It will discuss how media witnessing in response to these two crises can be used as a precedent for understanding and utilizing this framework and digital storytelling to address the crises of 2020, primarily the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice. It will then examine how the intersectionality of race, gender, and age has implications for future media witnessing and storytelling in the context of EJ movements. Finally, it will explain how media witnessing can motivate holistic policymaking in the favor of EJ initiatives and the health and wellbeing of all Americans, as well as how such policymaking and initiatives must acknowledge the double-edged sword that is social media.

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2021-05

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An Evaluation of the Inclusivity of the Conservation Biology and Ecology Concentration at Arizona State University

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The mainstream American environmental movement has a reputation for being ethnically homogenous (i.e., white), especially within the field of conservation. Low minority involvement has been noted and discussed in the conservation literature and within environmental organizations, but these discussions aren't

The mainstream American environmental movement has a reputation for being ethnically homogenous (i.e., white), especially within the field of conservation. Low minority involvement has been noted and discussed in the conservation literature and within environmental organizations, but these discussions aren't always informed by the explicit social justice concerns critical to understanding the complex intersection of environmental and social issues. Communities of color have expressed concern for environmental and conservation issues, but often frame those issues in a different way than is common in mainstream conservation science, a framing that we can appreciate through a deeper analysis of the values and goals of the environmental justice (EJ) movement. A more thorough inclusion of EJ principles could be an effective method to increase ethnic diversity in the field of conservation, particularly within higher education conservation programs like the Conservation Biology and Ecology (CBE) concentration at Arizona State University. This thesis frames the broader challenge of diversity in conservation, the history and current state of the conservation movement, and the history of the environmental justice movement via a literature review. I then evaluate the university's CBE program on the basis of its diversity through an analysis of demographic data on undergraduate ethnicity from the School of Life Sciences. I conclude with a series of recommendations for enhancing the diversity of ASU's CBE program moving forward.

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2016-12

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Water management and justice in the borderlands: perspectives from and analysis of the Santa Cruz River Basin

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The Santa Cruz River Basin shared by Northern Sonora and Southern Arizona is one example of transboundary water resources in the borderlands region that accurately portrays the complexities of binational management of common pool resources, such as water. Industrialization fueled

The Santa Cruz River Basin shared by Northern Sonora and Southern Arizona is one example of transboundary water resources in the borderlands region that accurately portrays the complexities of binational management of common pool resources, such as water. Industrialization fueled by trade liberalization has resulted in migration to and urbanization along the border, which have created human rights issues with the lack of water and sanitation, groundwater overdraft of the shared aquifers, and contamination of these scarce resources. Effluent from wastewater treatment plants continues to play increasingly important roles in the region, the use of which has been a source of tension between the two countries. Contributing to these tensions are the strains on binational relations created by border militarization and SB 1070. A shift in water management strategies to increase pubic participation within decision-making, increase the flexibility of the water systems, and increase cross-border collaboration is needed to ensure human and ecological sustainability in the Santa Cruz River Basin. By incorporating direct communication and local capacity as per common pool resource theory, recognizing the connections and implications of management actions through socio-ecological systems understanding, and promoting the organic drivers of change through ecologies of agents, just and vigorous futures can be envisioned and advanced.

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2015

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Disconnected: investigating the social and political conditions shaping Mexico City's air quality regulatory environment

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Mexico City has an ongoing air pollution issue that negatively affects its citizens and surroundings with current structural disconnections preventing the city from improving its overall air quality. Thematic methodological analysis reveals current obstacles and barriers, as well as variables

Mexico City has an ongoing air pollution issue that negatively affects its citizens and surroundings with current structural disconnections preventing the city from improving its overall air quality. Thematic methodological analysis reveals current obstacles and barriers, as well as variables contributing to this persistent problem. A historical background reveals current programs and policies implemented to improve Mexico’s City air quality. Mexico City’s current systems, infrastructure, and policies are inadequate and ineffective. There is a lack of appropriate regulation on other modes of transportation, and the current government system fails to identify how the class disparity in the city and lack of adequate education are contributing to this ongoing problem. Education and adequate public awareness can potentially aid the fight against air pollution in the Metropolitan City.

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2018