(un)Just Sustainabilities online Exhibit

This online exhibit for Professor Heather Bedi’s Environmental and Social Justice class allows Dickinson College students to reflect on environmental injustices and demographic trends in their neighborhood, town, city, or state. In defining just sustainabilities, Agyeman et al. (2003) argue that social and economic inequalities across place exacerbate environmental injustices. They advocate for human equality to be central in sustainability efforts. Students explore (un) just sustainabilities in their place through a paper and a publicly exhibited zero-waste visual or audio project.

The Impacts of Water Pollution in Syracuse on the Onondaga Nation Reservation

Environmental and health disparities in Syracuse

Water pollution in Syracuse has particularly affected the Onondaga Nation Reservation, Southside, and Near Northeast. Click the image for the link to the story map.

Syracuse, the fifth-largest city in the state of New York, is one of the places that experience a high level of water pollution and associated health issues of the residents. The city’s watershed including Onondaga Lake has been heavily polluted with chemicals including mercury due to household sewage and industrial wastewater since the beginning of the 20th century (Rowell et al., 2015). The water degradation in Onondaga watershed particularly affected the Onondaga Nation Reservation located south of the city of Syracuse where half of the population is Native American. The Onondaga tribe, traditionally relying on Onondaga Lake and waterscape for food sources was significantly affected by sediment runoff as a result of the salt brine mining (Perreault et al. 2012). Silt and sediment accumulation affected the aquatic ecosystem and fish migration, as well as human health with several different pathogenic microorganisms (Huang et al., 2018). Additionally, certain chemicals contained in the water stream such as mercury and other hazardous materials can accumulate in the eutrophic lake, affecting people through the food web and other pathways (Todorova et al., 2009). To eliminate the social injustice within the community, the environmental health disparities and other associated issues in Syracuse must be addressed to ensure the social needs and welfare as well as the equal social opportunity of the local community (Agyeman et al., 2016). The indigenous and native perspectives on land ownership and the environment must be also taken into account (Manno et al., 2013).


I made a story map that will briefly walk you through the story of water pollution and its specific impacts on the Onondaga Nation Reservation. The story map contains several maps and images to help you better understand the environmental disparities present in the Syracuse area. To access the story map, click the link below or the image in the post.

Story Map: https://arcg.is/14CHDX

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