Environmental justice: An evolving concept in a dynamic era

Charles Knoble, Danlin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Studies of environmental justice in the United States started more than four decades ago when an African American dominant community was chosen as the site of a hazardous landfill. Many works have emerged since then, evolving around the concepts of distribution justice, representation justice, and recognition justice. Scholars attempt to address the environmental justice topic from a wide range of angles with multiple modern research methods. As an important aspect of sustainable development, we conducted a literature review in an attempt to summarize the progress of environmental justice studies in recent years. Under the broad framework of sustainable development, we investigate the origin of environmental justice studies, the traditional and modern approaches scholars applied to investigate the subject, and the applications of the concepts in recent years, especially in the era of a global pandemic. We also explore the application of environmental justice in recent planning practices. The purposes of the study are to further exploration of environmental justice, and analyze theories and explanations on what causes environmental justice and injustice. This study will pave a way for future advancements in sustainability science that will provide new opportunities and tools to be used by academics, policymakers, and urban planners alike.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2091-2108
Number of pages18
JournalSustainable Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • environmental justice and injustice
  • just sustainabilities
  • qualitative and quantitative research methods
  • social vulnerability
  • sustainable development


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