Environmental Justice and Salmon

Instructor Name: 
David Osborn
Course Description: 

Celilo Falls: Decolonization, Dams and Salmon in the Pacific NW

The Columbia river flows through our region in physical and metaphorical ways. Present in the story of the river and the salmon that navigate it are social issues, history and conflict that continue to impact NW communities. Through a place-based, experiential approach we will engage this content. Over the course of the term we will spend the majority of our class time outside of the classroom near the river and at sites of cultural or geologic importance.

In recent years, social movement organizations have increasingly strived to address the overlapping problems of environmental degradation and social inequality. Realizing that environmental problems disproportionately affect marginalized communities, these movements have attempted to address the social, political and economic root of what they frame “environmental injustice.”

This course will combine an analysis of the literature on environmental justice movements with a hands-on project to address the social and ecological fallout of the damming of Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. We will examine the historical causes and contemporary consequences of the dam for local Native and non-Native communities and the environment, explore the potential for an environmental justice movement to address the social and ecological wounds caused by the dam, and look at organizing work to raise community awareness and lay the ground work for environmental justice mobilization.

Students will volunteer with Bark as the community-based learning component of the course. We will work to support their work in the Mt. Hood National Forest restoring habitat for beavers and preparing to re-introduce the species into areas of the forest where they were removed. Students will learn about the multi-faceted ways in which beavers impact ecosystems, including supporting salmon. While much of the service work will occur outside, there will be options for non-field based work for those who may prefer that.


* For summer term offerings this class will be a hybrid. All other terms will be fully in-person. We will meet 2-4 times over the course of the term in-person as a class. The remaining weeks will be facilitated online and remotely. There will also be 2-3 field days, mostly on weekends, of service work with the community partner. We will meet in-person the first day of class and we will be able to go over the whole schedule then. Please feel free to email if you have questions in advance.