My name is Nebraska Hernández, and I am a current M.S. student in the Geography Department. Before my M.S., I received my B.S. in Geography at Penn State with certificates in landscape ecology, global environmental systems, geographic information systems, and environment & society. My undergraduate research thesis, A Mapping Methodology for Exploring Environmental Injustice: The Case of Pennsylvania, focused on investigating how to quantify environmental injustice in Pennsylvania.
In graduate school, I am exploring questions of justice and equity, amplified by the climate crisis, that must be answered. Science, ranging from the annual IPCC publications to local community group roundtables, dictates that this decade is the decade of purposeful action. Public opinion and policy in the form of the Green New Deal and widespread, youth-led calls for climate action have created a policy window, shattering the monopoly on environmental discourse held by fossil fuel companies since the 1980s. Within this window, I hope to answer questions such as, “How can meaningful participation of marginalized groups be ensured in the development of EJ mapping?”; “If EJ cannot be achieved through the parameters of the EPA (to paraphrase Dr. Laura Pulido), how do we measure both quantitatively and qualitatively, successes in EJ?; and, “How do EJ concerns manifest in Latinx communities?” The themes of vulnerability and resilience that are embedded in my research questions reaffirm that only a political ecology and environmental justice framework can begin to unravel the complexities of differential social power that is mapped across the landscape.