Checking in With Professor Mindy Fullilove

Mindy Fullilove, Tishman Center Affiliated Faculty and Professor of Urban Policy and Health at the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy checks in on her current projects and women's role in the environmental justice movement in celebration of International Women's Month.

Q: What led you to propose the founding of University of Orange? Are there current or upcoming programs or courses that you are particularly excited about?

The University of Orange came out of our recognition that Orange NJ is the most historic city in the US and everything you want to know about the American city you can learn in Orange NJ.  I joked that the city was a university, the university of Orange.  One thing led to another and we decided that we would start a university.  We are very excited about our Social Emergency Response Center (SERC) which is helping us find our way in this new political situation.  The SERC is a series of events throughout the spring. We are looking forward to our ninth annual Placemaking on April 29th, The Hidden Treasures of Orange.  We are launching a wonderful new website with stories of Orange.  The website was developed by New School alumna Aubrey Murdock.

Q: Here at The New School, you have been working on a project (and teaching a course) called 400 Years of Inequality, which examines the key events that have shaped the current state of inequality in this country starting with the sale of the first African Slaves in Jamestown in 1619. What were some of the highlights from your recent conference, and what are next steps as you plan for an observance of the 400th anniversary of Jamestown?

Our conference -- <3/5s: Considering the Consequences of 400 Years of Inequality -- brought together students, faculty and community activists to consider the long history from 1619 to now.  We examined comprehensive timelines of the 400 years, created by New School students. We went through an exercise to "Name the Moment," a popular education activity which helps to define the political situation. We played a delightful game -- "Remember when?" -- in which people remembered [as yet unrealized] events that undid inequality.  For example, the game started, "Hey, Aubrey, remember when we eradicated student loan debt?"  Throughout the day, Professor William Morrish drew the minutes, documenting the extraordinary images and comments that came up.  We plan to encourage people to observe the anniversary in ways that are aligned with their culture, history and current struggles. For example, one of the organizers of our conference, Professor Robert Fullilove of Columbia University, plans to invite professors to incorporate Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" in all kinds of courses, from literature to physics, to give us all the historical tools we need to understand this period.

Q: How, in your opinion, are women uniquely impacted by environmental injustices?

Women are deeply engaged in placemaking for themselves and others.  Injustice in the environment makes it much harder for them to carry out this work, and it adds another heavy task to all the work they already have.

Q: There is a lot of conversation about the new presidential administration and its impact on both women and the environment. How do you see these worlds overlap and what do you think the impacts will be on women in the environmental justice movement [under?] the new presidential administration?

What we have to learn from women in the environmental justice movement are the legacies of injustice we have been living with all along that have been intensified under the past four decades of neoliberal policies. This gives us perspective on what's "new" in this new administration.  All too much of the abuse of women and the abuse of the environment represents an unbroken record from the early days of European contact in the Americas. This is something that is brought home by our project on the 400th anniversary of Jamestown. At the same time, we are called upon to "stay woke" in this dangerous period, to prevent further erosion of our democracy and our ecosystem. Or, as we like to chant, "Stay woke, don't fall for the okey-doke!"  Also, don't take any wooden nickels.  Words to live by.