Environmental Studies from a Feminist Perspective
Another winner of a University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award for 2006 is Jacquelyn Zita, Associate Professor in the Department of Women's Studies. Professor Zita was recognized for her work with the Women's Environmental Institute at Amador Hill, where she is Director of Education and Operations.
Prof. Zita publishes in the area of women's issues from "a biological, philosophical, and historical feminist perspective". Her current research activities include
- Research on scientific research on the unregulated environmental crisis in the American home.
- Caustic Spring: Mapping Pesticide-Related Pathologies in Minnesota
- Material Girl in a Chemical World: Reflections on Postmodernity, Environmental Crisis and the Female Body
She comes to this unusual set of research interests from an unusual but pertinent educational background: B.A. in Biology and Chemistry, and Ph.D. in Philosophy, all at Washington University in St. Louis. She has been Chair of the Department of Women's Studies, President of the National Women's Studies Association, and recipient of the University's major undergraduate teaching award.
The Women’s Environmental Institute at Amador Hill is "an environmental research, renewal and retreat center designed to create and share knowledge about environmental issues and policies relevant to women, children and identified communities especially affected by environmental injustices; to promote organic and sustainable agriculture skill building and ecological awareness; and to promote activism that influences public policy and promotes social change."
The WEI website lists six programmatic objectives dedicated to:
- create knowledge, scholarship and educational materials for individuals or groups working on environmental issues related to women, children, and disproportionately impacted communities
- become an information hub that organizes current research and writing on environmental issues related to women, children, and identified communities
- demonstrate leadership in civic involvement, global responsibility and stewardship around environmental issues at both the local and global level
- provide both on-site and off-site educational outreach in seminars (and eventually distant learning courses) and experiential learning workshops on practical activities related to sustainable agriculture and environmental issues
- develop strong affiliations with local environmental and ecologically-focused groups and secondary and post-secondary institutions to create collaborative programming and projects
- create an institute that will provide a model for environmentally-friendly construction, land stewardship and conservation practices, renewable energy, resource development, and organic food production and processing.
This broad program melds many aspects of science with equally many social and political issues. It is a great example of how engaged scholarship on significant community problems requires a multidisciplinary approach, and how an engaged scholar can combine her own broad training and experience with a wide range of community partners to achieve important results.