The Role of Planners in Environmental Justice

Join Sustainable Urban Planning's 10-Year Anniversary Spring Symposium Series


Reimagine GW's Sustainable Urban Planning Master's program, celebrating 10 years, circle logo

Cities are complex organisms and they bear the mark of the planners and policy makers who have shaped them for decades. At the root of many of these practices is racism, and modern cities bear the legacy of that discrimination. Movements like Black Lives Matter are bringing inequality back into the national conversation. It's time to reassess the practices that have perpetuated these problems–and how we fix them.

GW's Sustainable Urban Planning Program will welcome Dr. Sacoby Wilson to discuss the cumulative impacts of planning policies that have resulted in the concentration of unwanted land uses in communities of color. These environmental impacts affect residents' abilities to live healthy, productive lives. 

Dr. Wilson will discuss how we have arrived at this moment, give examples of the impacts on community members and highlight concrete actions planners can take to change the future.

Dr. Sacoby Wilson, Guest Speaker: 

Dr. Sacoby Wilson
Dr. Sacoby Wilson
 is an Associate Professor with the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, University of Maryland-College Park. Dr. Wilson has over 20 years of experience as an environmental health scientist in the areas of exposure science, environmental justice, environmental racism, environmental health disparities, community-engaged research including crowd science and community-based participatory research (CBPR), water quality analysis, built environment, community resiliency, and sustainability. He works primarily in partnership with community-based organizations to address environmental justice and health issues, then translate research to action.

Dr. Wilson is a member of the USEPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), member of the National Academy of Science's Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology (BEST), board member of the Citizen Science Association, Editor in Chief of Environmental Justice, and former Chair of the Alpha Goes Green Initiative, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Dr. Wilson is Co-Founder of the DMV Environmental Justice Coalition and Founder of 17 for Peace and Justice, an environmental justice advocacy organization. He is on the steering committee for the recently relaunched National Black Environmental Justice Network (NBEJN). Additionally, he hosts an annual environmental justice symposium that brings together community members, advocates, policymakers, researchers, students, and practitioners to discuss ways to address environmental justice issues.

Dr. Wilson, a two-time EPA STAR fellow, EPA MAI fellow, Udall Scholar, NASA Space Scholar, and Thurgood Marshall Scholar, received his BS degree in Biology/Ecotoxicology with a minor in Environmental Science from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University. Dr. Wilson received his MS degree and PhD from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Dr. Sandra Whitehead, Program Director: 

Dr. Sandra Whitehead is the Program Director of the Sustainable Urban Planning Program. She teaches Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the studio classes and Land Use Law. Dr. Whitehead is a nationally recognized expert on the intersection of health, equity and the built environment.

Sandra Whitehead


For more information about GW's Sustainable Urban Planning programs, please visit our website.