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Lane Family Lecture in Environmental Science — Catherine Coleman Flowers: “Environmental Justice in Rural America”

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About the event

In her online talk, “Environmental Justice in Rural America,” Flowers will focus on the problem of wastewater inequality as a social justice issue and the ways water sanitation infrastructure serves as an indicator of larger cycles of racism and poverty in our country.

Throughout her 20 years of work on this issue, Flowers has gathered stories from people struggling with this problem in nearly every part of the United States—including the Pacific Northwest. She will speak about how, with research and ingenuity, we can make significant strides toward sanitation equity and how activists of any age can get involved in fighting for equitable and sustainable wastewater infrastructure.


WSU’s School of the Environment (SoE) will host a limited, in-person viewing opportunity, and a panel discussion featuring WSU faculty immediately following Flowers’ presentation to expand on topics raised and related areas of WSU research and education. Advance registration is required for both events by visiting, where more information can be found.


In 2021, Flowers served as vice chair of the Biden Administration’s inaugural White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

She is the founder of the Center for Rural Enterprise and Environmental Justice; rural development manager for Bryan Stevenson’s Equal Justice Initiative; and a member of the boards of directors for the Climate Reality Project, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary. She is also co-chair of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on Accelerating Climate Action and a practitioner in residence at Duke University.

In her book, Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret, Flowers reveals one of the least-discussed forms of inequality—equal access to water and sanitation—and illuminates the correlation between sanitation and systemic class, racial, and geographic prejudice affecting people across the United States.


Lane Lecture co-sponsors include: WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences; College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences; WSU’s Martin Luther King Program; Department of Sociology; Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service; WSU Collective for Social & Environmental Justice; WSU Common Reading Program; SoE Graduate Student Association; WSU Global Connections.

Common Reading credit is available to students.


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Kent Keller, director and professor, School of the Environment
(509) 335-3009