Technoscience and Environmental Justice

From Urban and Industrial Environments

Technoscience and Environmental Justice

Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement

Edited by Gwen Ottinger and Benjamin R. Cohen

Afterword by Kim Fortun

Case studies exploring how experts' encounters with environmental justice are changing technical and scientific practice.





Case studies exploring how experts' encounters with environmental justice are changing technical and scientific practice.

Over the course of nearly thirty years, the environmental justice movement has changed the politics of environmental activism and influenced environmental policy. In the process, it has turned the attention of environmental activists and regulatory agencies to issues of pollution, toxics, and human health as they affect ordinary people, especially people of color. This book argues that the environmental justice movement has also begun to transform science and engineering. The chapters present case studies of technical experts' encounters with environmental justice activists and issues, exploring the transformative potential of these interactions.

Technoscience and Environmental Justice first examines the scientific practices and identities of technical experts who work with environmental justice organizations, whether by becoming activists themselves or by sharing scientific information with communities. It then explore scientists' and engineers' activities in such mainstream scientific institutions as regulatory agencies and universities, where environmental justice concerns have been (partially) institutionalized as a response to environmental justice activism. All of the chapters grapple with the difficulty of transformation that experts face, but the studies also show how environmental justice activism has created opportunities for changing technical practices and, in a few cases, has even accomplished significant transformations.


$48.00 X ISBN: 9780262015790 312 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 7 figures


$30.00 X ISBN: 9780262516181 312 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 7 figures


Gwen Ottinger

Gwen Ottinger is Assistant Professor in the Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences Program at University of Washington–Bothell.

Benjamin R. Cohen

Benjamin R. Cohen is Associate Professor at Lafayette College and the author of Pure Adulteration: Cheating on Nature in the Age of Manufactured Food.


Kim Fortun.


  • Technoscience and Environmental Justice provides a valuable resource for thinking about how to alter scientific and engineering practice … and to better serve our democratic aspirations.

    Organization and Environment

  • …collection shows how confronting structural inequities through community-based projects can achieve transformative political change.


  • Technoscience and Environmental Justice helps demonstrate that our scientific practices are always changing and can be brought into useful alignment with citizens and society while still contributing to the development of a more robust scientific understanding of the world.

    Chemical Heritage Magazine


  • This book brings together many of the top scholars at the intersection of science and technology studies and environmental justice studies to explore how scientists and engineers engage with environmental justice issues and activists, often in the face of significant institutional constraints. Through detailed case studies, the scholars break new ground by showing how both the topics studied and methods used to understand difficult environmental justice issues have undergone significant innovation.

    David Hess

    Professor of Sociology, Vanderbilt University

  • This collection brings empirical insight and fresh analytical perspective to issues of science, engineering, and environmental justice. In presenting scientific identities and practices as dynamic rather than static, it takes us beyond science-citizen dualities and opens up transformative possibilities for both science and environmental change.

    Alan Irwin

    Copenhagen Business School; author of Citizen Science

  • The questions raised by the authors about environmental justice and the transformation of science and engineering related to environmental decision making are important and have been largely neglected in the literature until very recently. The rigorous and scholarly discussion of how risk science can be transformed by values associated with the environmental justice movement is quite impressive.

    Elaine Vaughan

    Research Professor and Professor Emerita of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine