Recap of the 2019 William Julius Wilson Symposium

Washington State University created the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice in 2009 to honor individuals who promote social inclusiveness and diversity in social policies and strive to reduce joblessness.

Photo of Robert Bullard looking into the distance.
Robert Bullard. PhD

The award is named after William Julius Wilson, who received his PhD in sociology from WSU in 1966. Professor Wilson is widely considered one of the nation’s most influential sociologists.

This year, the honoree presented with the award was Robert D. Bullard, a distinguished professor of urban planning and environmental policy at Texas Southern University in Houston.

Professor Bullard is often called the “father of environmental justice” as his 1979 study “Solid Waste Sites and the Houston Black Community” laid the foundation for four decades of environmental justice research. He is co-founder of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Change Consortium and the author of 18 books. His Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality (Westview Press, 1990) was the first book to introduce many readers to the field of environmental justice. His latest books include Race, Place and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina (2009), Environmental Health and Racial Equity in the United States (2011), and The Wrong Complexion for Protection: How the Government Response to Disaster Endangers African American Communities (2012). In 1990, he received the National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award in Science for his groundbreaking book Dumping in Dixie.

Several WSU faculty and staff members stand with Robert Bullard for a photo.
Robert Bullard (center) with several WSU faculty members and administrators

Bullard recently was listed among the world’s 100 Most Influential People in Climate Policy by national public policy group Apolitical, and he received the Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communication from Climate One.

In 2018, the Global Climate Change Summit named him one of 22 Climate Trailblazers. In 2017, the Children’s Environmental Health Network presented him with the Child Health Advocate Award. In 2015, the American Bar Association presented him with its Environmental, Energy, and Resources Stewardship Award. In 2014, the Sierra Club inaugurated an Environmental Justice Award in Bullard’s name and, in 2013, honored him with the John Muir Award. In 2008, Newsweek named him one of “13 Environmental Leaders of the Century.”

Robert Bullard sitting at a table talking enthusiastically with his arms in the air.
Professor Bullard speaking during a lunch with WSU Sociology graduate students

The 2019 Wilson Symposium was sponsored by the WSU Office of the Provost, Office of Equity and Diversity, Department of Sociology, College of Arts and Sciences, Common Reading Program, Sociology Graduate Student Organization, Pre-Law Resource Center, Environmental Science Club, and the Environmental Sustainability Alliance.

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