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Gender, Justice & Environmental Change Program (GJEC)

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Gender, Justice and Environmental Change (GJEC) is a graduate specialization available as an elective for students who are enrolled in master's and doctoral degree programs at Michigan State University. The specialization is sponsored jointly by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Social Science

This program, first offered in Fall 2000, is the first of its kind in the nation explicitly focusing on the intersection of gender, environmental change, and social and environmental justice. The program is designed in particular to examine these issues and processes from both local and global perspectives, challenging traditional dichotomies between the First and Third Worlds, and the North and the South.


Download the program brochure for GJEC here [pdf]

The Issues

Researchers, policy-makers, and activists have increasingly recognized the critical importance of these interlocking dimensions for understanding the social relations underlying many environmental problems, from Love Canal in New York to the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. Examples of emerging scholarship in this field include how gender, class, race, and ethnicity intersect in:

  • the environmental politics of international issues such as biotechnology and globalization.

  • grassroots environmental justice movements.

  • use and management of agricultural and natural resources.

  • feminist environmental economics/human-environment relations in history and in literature.

The Program

The GJEC program offers graduate students a supportive and rigorous academic environment for exploring these issues, as well as credentials demonstrating specialized training in the field. The certification of the specialization will appear on the student's transcript. The specialization is intended to:

  • provide graduate students from different disciplinary backgrounds with the analytical and methodological tools to address environmental and/or natural resource issues from gender relations and social justice perspectives.
  • provide students with a global perspective on environmental and/or agricultural issues by drawing out local-global linkages.
  • foster the growth of research, service, and interdisciplinary collaboration in the fields of gender and environmental studies.
  • increase awareness among faculty, students, and the public of the linkages between gender and the environment, both domestically and internationally.

The program is flexible and cross-disciplinary in design, and with faculty and student participation. Students in natural science fields can use the specialization to integrate gender and justice concerns with their regular program. Students in social sciences will be exposed to the background, concepts, and methods of environmental studies necessary to communicate with natural scientists and policy makers. The Graduate Advisor will assist each student in planning a program of study that is related to their interests, capabilities, and professional goals. With the approval of the department and college that administer the student's degree program, the courses that are used to satisfy the requirements for the specialization may also be used to satisfy the requirements for their master's or doctoral degree. Contact the Graduate Advisor for assistance in designing your specialization.

The Requirements

The specialization is flexible and multidisciplinary, designed in consultation with the GJEC Coordinator. The student must meet the following requirements, totaling 12 credits:

  1. Complete the following two core courses, offered in alternate years (6 credits):
    • CSUS 858 "Gender, Justice and Environmental Change: Issues and Concepts" (3 credits)
      • Cross-listed in: ANP, CJ, FOR, FW, GEO, SOC, and WS
    • ANP 859 "Gender, Justice and Environmental Change: Methodology and Application" (3 credits)
      • Cross-listed in: FOR, FW, GEO, and SOC
  2. Complete one policy course relevant to the specialization (3 credits).
  3. Complete one elective course relevant to the specialization (3 credits).

It is recommended that each student choose policy and elective courses in consultation with the GJEC Coordinator to ensure the courses provide the student with the necessary training and skills, and contribute to a well-rounded program of study.

Successful completion of the courses that fulfill the GJEC requirements may also apply to the student's degree, depending upon the student's departmental degree requirements.

During the semester before graduation, the student must fill out a form, available at GenCen (206 International Center), that confirms that the student has completed the requirements for the specialization. The form will be signed by the GJEC/GenCen Co-Director and by the Assistant Dean, and submitted to the MSU Registrar's Office. The specialization will then appear on the student's transcript.

What Do GJEC Grads Do?

Students combine the specialization with a variety of MA and PhD programs across the College of Social Science, College of Agriculture, and other units. They enter into a wide range of careers in higher education, research, public service, government, nonprofits, and more.  Many PhD graduates go on to obtain tenure-track faculty positions. Other recent positions include:

  • Senior Advisor for Monitoring and Evaluation (International Nonprofit)
  • Senior Policy Analyst (USAID)
  • Research Scientist (United States Government)
  • Community Engagement Organizer (City Government)
  • Deputy Director (Nonprofit)

GJEC Graduate Reflections on the Program

Natalie J. Bourdon
PhD, Anthropology, 2009
Current position: Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies and Associate Professor of Anthropology, Mercer University
“[The GJEC specialization is] one of the cutting edge programs in the U.S., still. And it's becoming even more imperative with our new environmental and ecological challenges.”

Heather Surface
MA, Forestry, 2015
Current Position: Stewardship & Community Events Specialist for the City of East Lansing
“The GJEC specialization was the best part of my Master’s program. It challenged me to confront my privilege and to think more globally. These qualities have made me more attractive to employers and to myself. I value every second that I spent in the classroom and on the projects that came out of the classroom in this specialization.”

Amy Fitzgerald
PhD, Sociology, 2006
Current Position: Associate Professor at the University of Windsor in the Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology department and the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research
“My final paper in one of my GJEC courses was published, thus bolstering my publication record when I was on the job market. The interdisciplinary nature of the program also taught me how to better communicate across disciplinary boundaries, which has helped me in my research and also in navigating the interdisciplinary position I hold between the social and natural sciences. I also still draw on the substantive knowledge I gained in the program in my teaching and research.”


GJEC Dissertation Fellowships

The GJEC Program offers Dissertation Fellowships on an annual basis. For more information on the Fellowships and how to apply, visit our graduate student funding page.

Current 2018-2019 Awardees

Dissertation Research Awards

Cynthia Balthazar (Community Sustainability)
"Fair Trade, Gender and Sustainability in Rural Haiti: Finding meanings for 'success' in sustainability through a gendered lens"

Timothy Silberg (Community Sustainability)
"Modeling Parasitic Weed Emergence: The Case of Striga in Malawi"

Dissertation Completion Awards

Adebiyi Jelili Adegboyega (Community Sustainability, ESPP)
“Gender, Adoption and the Livelihoods Impacts of Certified Organic Leafy Vegetable Production on Smallholder Farmers in Ibadan, Southwest, Nigeria”

Matlhogonolo Kelepile (Geography)
"HIV Treatment Seeking Behaviors in Botswana: Antiretroviral (ARV) and Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission (PMTCT)"

Udita Sanga (Community Sustainability)
"A Resilience-based Approach to Modelling Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation among Rural Farmers in Southern Mali"

Previous Awardees

2017-2018 Awardees

Dissertation Research Awards

Adebiyi Jelili Adegboyega (Community Sustainability)
“Adoption and the Livelihood Impacts of Certified Organic Leafy Vegetable Production on Smallholder Farmers in Ibadan, Southwest, Nigeria”

James Blackwell (History)
“Igbo Migration, Entrepreneurship and the Creation of the ‘Igbo Scare’ in British Southern Cameroon 1916-1970”

Shakara Tyler (Community Sustainability)
“The Pedagogy of Black Agrarianism”

Dissertation Completion Awards

Rachel Elbin (Anthropology)
“Negotiating the Moral Frontiers of Natural Gas Extraction in Mtwara, Tanzania”

Seven Mattes (Anthropology)
“Animals Left Behind: A Multispecies Ethnography in Post-3-11 Japan”

Sabrina Perlman (Anthropology)
“Gender, Poverty, and Diabetes Self-Management in Ghana”

2016-2017 Awardees

Dissertation Research Awards

Michelle Larkins (Community Sustainability)
“The Ties That Bind: The Intersection of Gender and Place in Community Environmental Justice Action”

Meenakshi Narayan (Anthropology)
“Understanding Gender in Forest Rights: Comparing Local and National Discourses in India”

Dissertation Completion Awards

Yenupini “Joyce” Adams (Nursing)
“Use of Postpartum Care Services in Rural Central Malawi”

Fatoumata Barry (Geography)
“‘Flooding Oil’: Investigating Poor Health in Vulnerable Communities in the Niger Delta”

Kimberly Ross (AAAS)
“Traditional Terrain: Land, Gender, and Cultural Biodiversity Preservation in Venda, South Africa”

2015-2016 Awardees

Dissertation Research Awards

Yenupini “Joyce” Adams (Nursing)
“Use of Postpartum Care Services in Rural Central Malawi”

Fatoumata Barry (Geography)
“‘Flooding Oil’: Investigating Poor Health in Vulnerable Communities in the Niger Delta”

Kimberly Ross (AAAS)
“Chief Concerns: Land, Gender, and Neo-Traditionalists in Venda, South Africa”

Dissertation Completion Awards

Ellis Adams (Geography)
“Decentralization, Institutions, and Access to Potable Water in Malawi’s Peri-Urban Settlements”

Julia Novak Colwell (Fisheries & Wildlife)
“Gender & Livelihoods: Differential effects of a closed fishing season”

2014-2015 Awardees

Dissertation Research Awards

Cadi Fung (Geography)
“Territorialization of Protected Areas and Human-Wildlife Conflict in the Brazilian Amazon: the Case of the Amazon River Dolphin”

Jennifer Kelly (Sociology)
“Considering the Lives of Men, Women, Jaguars and Pumas in the Nation of Nature: Measuring the Capacity of Costa Ricans to Co-Exist with Large Predators in the Mesoamerican Corridor”

Ayala Wineman (AFRE)
“Land Markets and Land Distribution in Tanzania: A Gendered Analysis”

Dissertation Completion Awards

David Baylis (Geography)
“‘Turkish Children Should Live!’ Science, Gender, Governmentality and the State”

Meskerem Glegziabher (Anthropology)
“India Rising? Understanding Development, Gender, and Urban Poverty Alleviation in Delhi’s Jhuggis”

Laura Johnson (Geography)
“Farm tours, civic agriculture and geographies of care: Exploring the potential of new spaces of (re)connection in North Carolina's High Country”


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