Teaching Environmental Justice with Documentaries

Sponsored by Global Environmental Justice Documentaries Project
Recorded on 12/08/2020

Posted in Ebooks and Digital Resources


How will Kisilu Musya, a farmer in rural Kenya, cope with drought and flash floods brought on by climate change? Can a Black community in Texas put an end to toxic emissions from a nearby oil refinery? How can we protect forests, rebuild ecosystems and restore biodiversity? What is the real cost of fast fashion and iphones? These questions and more are explored in this documentary collection.

The global future we face is both exciting and challenging. Rapidly changing landscapes of regional and global systems of power, knowledge, and exchange confront us all — probably in ways we have yet to fully comprehend. From this global perspective, the need for environmental literacy intertwined with various other kinds of understanding is deep and profound.

An ACRL Webinar with free teacher’s guides, this panel discussion will provide insight structuring classes around documentary films and screening documentaries in campus-wide events.

Discussion topics include:

  • Defining environmental justice
  • Climate justice as a galvanizing topic on campus
  • Discussing difficult topics and footage in class – how do you help students maintain optimism?
  • How environmental justice touches on and even pervades a variety of subject areas

The session includes numerous clips from Global Environmental Justice Documentaries to give viewers a sense of the scope and depth of the collection, as well as recorded interviews with the project’s curators.

Download the teacher’s guide for Thank You for the Rain and others here: http://gej.docuseek2.com/cart/template/guides

“Capturing ecological, social, and public health crises, these documenta­ries bring the neglected stories of marginalized communities to light.
…the films are insightful and will enhance students’ environmental literacy and inspire advocacy through artistic film imagery and authentic human stories.”  — ccAdvisor

This webinar is sponsored by the Global Environmental Justice Documentaries Project. The project is supported by the Luce Foundation, the Global Reporting Centre, and Face to Face Media.


  • Image of Judith Shapiro

    Judith Shapiro

    Director of the Masters in Natural Resources and Sustainable DevelopmentSchool of International Service, American University

    Professor Shapiro’s research and teaching focus on global environmental politics and policy, the environmental politics of Asia, and Chinese politics under Mao. She is the author, co-author or editor of nine books, including China Goes Green: Coercive Environmentalism for a Troubled Planet (Polity 2020). Her book Mao’s War against Nature inspired a documentary film, “Waking the Green Tiger” (2011). Her early experiences in China were made into a television feature film starring Melissa Gilbert.

    Dr. Shapiro earned her Ph.D. from American University’s School of International Service. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of California, Berkeley and another M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois, Urbana. Her B.A. from Princeton University is in Anthropology and East Asian Studies. Before coming to American University she had a lengthy career as an independent writer and commentator on Chinese politics. She also has extensive experience as a legal interpreter of Mandarin Chinese.

  • Image of Jason Carbine

    Jason Carbine

    C. Milo Connick Chair of Religious Studies, Associate ProfessorWhittier College

    Jason A. Carbine’s primary area of scholarly expertise is Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, with a research specialization in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and also with a comparative focus on parts of China. He has conducted field research in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, with an emphasis on ritual, practice, and religious spaces, and he has also led study abroad programs in various parts of Asia (Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Southwest China). Overall, his teaching and research in the study of Buddhism and other Asian religions combines historical and ethnographic methodologies, and draws from an interdisciplinary body of research pertaining to the history of religions, textual studies, anthropology, comparative religious ethics, and environmental studies. He teaches a range of courses dealing with Asian religions from India to Japan, method and theory in the study of religion, Asian religion and society, globalization, and the environment.

  • Image of Gary Marcuse

    Gary Marcuse

    Writer, Director, and ProducerFace to Face Media

    Gary Marcuse is the project director for the Global Environmental Justice Documentaries project. He is an award-winning writer, director, and producer for Face to Face Media, an independent production company based in Vancouver, Canada that specializes in the production of documentaries for public broadcast and documentary collections for use in class. He has produced a series of films on the rise of environmental movements in North America (Nuclear Dynamite, 2000), in Russia (ARKTIKA: The Russian Dream that Failed, 2004), and in China (Waking the Green Tiger: A green movement rises in China, 2011). These films received numerous international awards. His previous classroom resources include First Nations, The Circle Unbroken, a collection of films about contemporary life in indigenous communities in Canada produced in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada, and Scanning Television, a collection of 100 videos and a curriculum guide for use in teaching media literacy in class. Each of these classroom resources was produced in collaboration with classroom teachers. He also holds a degree in environmental planning from Cornell University (1975) and he is a former programming executive for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the past president of the Documentary Organization of Canada.