Policies for zoning laws or taxes can for many of us
seem at first blush like a distant, dry, even boring, topic. But policies have
very real impacts on all of us, every day. Consider your own neighborhood: the
height of the buildings, the presence of green space, the accessibility and
affordability of healthy food or public transportation. Or, in rural communities,
consider the kind of agriculture and irrigation employed and access to clean
water. All of these everyday realities are affected by policy decisions.
Policies therefore also connect to justice. Low-income,
minority communities are more likely to be negatively impacted by ecological
degradation and pollution than those with political or economic power. The
Jesuit call to work for justice requires that we engage in addressing the
policies, then, that make a more just society more, or less, possible.
Tanya Hayes teaches environmental policy and has an
international focus in her research. Tom Antkowiak’s interests include international
human rights and indigenous rights. Catherine O'Neill focuses on issues of justice in environmental
law and policy.