Rethinking Environmental Justice in Sustainable Cities: Insights from Agent-Based Modeling, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Rethinking Environmental Justice in Sustainable Cities

Insights from Agent-Based Modeling, 1st Edition

By Heather E. Campbell, Yushim Kim, Adam M. Eckerd


228 pages

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As the study of environmental policy and justice becomes increasingly significant in today’s global climate, standard statistical approaches to gathering data have become less helpful at generating new insights and possibilities. None of the conventional frameworks easily allow for the empirical modeling of the interactions of all the actors involved, or for the emergence of outcomes unintended by the actors. The existing frameworks account for the "what," but not for the "why."

Heather E. Campbell, Yushim Kim, and Adam Eckerd bring an innovative perspective to environmental justice research. Their approach adjusts the narrower questions often asked in the study of environmental justice, expanding to broader investigations of how and why environmental inequities occur. Using agent-based modeling (ABM), they study the interactions and interdependencies among different agents such as firms, residents, and government institutions. Through simulation, the authors test underlying assumptions in environmental justice and discover ways to modify existing theories to better explain why environmental injustice occurs. Furthermore, they use ABM to generate empirically testable hypotheses, which they employ to check if their simulated findings are supported in the real world using real data.

The pioneering research on environmental justice in this text will have effects on the field of environmental policy as a whole. For social science and policy researchers, this book explores how to employ new and experimental methods of inquiry on challenging social problems, and for the field of environmental justice, the authors demonstrate how ABM helps illuminate the complex social and policy interactions that lead to both environmental justice and injustice.


"Rethinking Environmental Justice in Sustainable Cities is an important book, not only for its examination of the causes and contexts of environmental injustice in US cities, but also as an exemplar of how agent-based modelling can be used to illuminate questions of major policy significance. The book will be of great value to the rapidly expanding community of researchers developing computational models to provide advice in a range of policy fields." —Nigel Gilbert, University of Surrey, UK.

"For a qualitative researcher who investigates environmental justice primarily through archival material and interview data, this book is certainly thought provoking. The authors advocate the use of Agent Based Modeling, a method of computational simulation, to understand causes of environmental injustice at the systems level. They argue that injustice might be an "emergent" outcome, unintended by any particular actor or the result of malicious intent. Furthermore, emergence could be used to think more critically about environmental policy and planning for purposes of urban sustainability. Whether or not one is a fan of computational simulation, this book is sure to inspire heated debates in the classroom and engage the important issue of EJ from yet another perspective." —Brinda Sarathy, Pitzer College

"Further, Campbell, Kim, and Eckerd have been able to firmly ground their models’ assumptions on existing research (with a focus on the United States) and clearly and convincingly explain and illustrate the value of ABM to model complex behavior that is otherwise difficult to study and understand using more simplistic methods. The book shows that ABM can generate interesting insights for public administrators and policy makers beyond what is possible with methods that do not heed to the complexity of urban systems." --Stefan Verweij, University of Bamberg, Germany

Table of Contents

Selected Contents: 1. Introduction 2. Environmental Justice Research and Agent-Based Modeling 3. An Agent-Based Model For Environmental Justice: The Ej Abm 4. Economic Rationality, Political Rationality, Or Racial Targeting: Focusing On Firm Behavior 5. Residential Choice Constraints 6. Race, Class, And Environmental Disparities 7. Residential Mobility 8. Local Zoning 9. Polluted-Site Remediation 10. All Politics Are Spatial: Integrating An Agent-Based Model With Spatially Explicit Landscape Data Hal T. Nelson, Nicholas L. Cain, And Zining Yang 11. Conclusions

About the Authors

Heather E. Campbell is Chair of the Department of Politics and Policy and Field Chair for Policy at the Claremont Graduate University, School of School of Social Science, Policy, and Evaluation.

Yushim Kim is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University (ASU) in Phoenix. She is interested in complexity-informed research, methods, and applications in the field of public policy and management. She has published refereed articles on environmental justice, public health emergencies, and social welfare fraud.

Adam Eckerd is an Assistant Professor at the Center for Public Administration and Policy (CPAP) in the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. He conducts research on the complex relationship between government decisions and social outcomes, particularly with respect to environmental justice, public participation, and nonprofit organizations.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Public Administration and Environmental Sustainability

Climate change, loss of habitat and biodiversity, water security, and the effects of new technologies are placing pressure at all levels of government for effective policy responses. Old policy solutions and the administrative processes associated with them are sometimes inadequate and even counterproductive for effectively addressing these sustainability issues. The challenge for societies worldwide often is how best to harness in the public interest the dynamism of markets, the passion and commitment of nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, and the public interest-oriented expertise of career civil servants at all levels of government. Routledge Studies on Public Administration and Environmental Sustainability will focus on core public administration questions as they relate to the topics of environmental, energy, and natural resources policies, and which together comprise the field of environmental sustainability.

The objective is to provide a forum for addressing the range of issues of concern in the field of public administration as they bear on environmental sustainability, as well as to alert policy makers to the managerial implications of the policy choices they make. Proposals are welcome which focus on the policy and management challenges, choices, and opportunities that environmental sustainability poses for public management, especially as these relate to the managerial, political, legal, and market-related dimensions of effective public administration.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Affairs & Administration
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy