Toxic Heritage

Collaborative research

Climates of Inequality

Climates of Inequality exhibit

By on August 13, 2020

“Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice” is an international project led by the Humanities Action Lab: (, and its goal is to “address histories of climate and environmental justice by sharing stories and strategies from the communities who bear the greatest impact while contributing the least to environmental degradation. By exploring the roots of climate and environmental justice, this project seeks to center frontline communities, raise awareness, build political efficacy, and develop mechanisms for accountability.” (HAL website)

IUPUI is one of 22 universities contributing to the Humanities Action Lab (HAL) Climates of Inequality project. Coordinated by the Cultural Heritage Research Center, IUPUI museum studies students and faculty, working closely with the Kheprw Institute and other community partners, developed public humanities projects that engage public audiences in the conversation about the legacies of environmental injustices in Central Indiana. Specifically, we have contributed to HAL’s collaboratively curated travelling exhibit and website, and are developing a number of projects and programs to amplify the Indianapolis story, and to create ways for diverse audiences to connect.

In addition to digital projects, students helped curate the traveling Climates of Inequality exhibit hosted, along with companion exhibits and public programs, at the Central Library atrium, Indianapolis Marion County Public Library in January-February 2020.

Project timeline and products

2017 FallAttended planning meeting & symposium at Humanities Action Lab, Rutgers, Newark, NJ (Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, Philip Scarpino).
2018 SpringFund raising (Indiana Humanities grant); Discussions with community partners; local venue identified (IMCPL Central Library).
2018 SummerWorked with Abigail Lindstedt, Service Learning Assistant funded by Center for Service and Learning, IUPUI to develop research resources and community organization data for project.
2018 Fall  Students in HIST H425 and H547 “Migration & Environmental Justice,” team taught by Elizabeth Kryder-Reid and Philip Scarpino, conducted research on the history of four waterways (the White River, Central Canal, Fall Creek, and the groundwater contamination site 0153), and they developed concepts for a companion exhibit and digital toxic tour.Students built a Zotero bibliography curated digital humanities projects on aspects of Indianapolis environmental history focusing on the four “waterways”: ( Students presented their projects at the Kheprw Institute to a public audience “Legacies of Environmental Justice in Indianapolis: Stories of Indianapolis’ Waterways” (Nov. 8, 2018). 
Spring 2019Students in MSTD A412 and A512 “Exhibit Planning and Design” taught by Dr. Laura Holzman developed the content for the IUPUI portion of the Climates of Inequality traveling exhibit including exhibit text and images, and a 360tour.
Fall 2019“Interpreting Environmental Justice” seminar taught by Elizabeth Kryder-Reid. Museum Studies graduate students developed programs, two companion exhibits, and a virtual “toxic tour.”Six students and two faculty attended the “Climates of Inequality” exhibit opening and international symposium at Rutgers University Newark, October 30-November 1. Students and KI staff representing the team presented the Indianapolis projects and participated in dialogue with other university teams and community partners. Climates of Inequality website launched including selected IUPUI students’ digital humanities projects: “Fall Creek: A Look at Art and the Environment: A Tim Faris Photography Exhibit” (December 9-January 27); December 9th opening included artist talk with Tim Faris and Stefan Petranek, Riley Room, and a preview of “Indianapolis Toxic Sites and Community Treasures.”
Spring 2020Hosted “Climates of Inequality” exhibit (January 9-February 16) at the downtown Central Library with associated marketing, PR, logistics management, & evaluation and exhibit opening celebration (January Exhibit Planning and Design students (taught by Cathy Hamaker) and Museum Methods students helped with installation and deinstallation, included moving the exhibit from atrium to sixth floor. Programming planned and managed by Museum Studies graduate students, who took the “Interpreting Environmental Justice” ran January-March. The final planned program was cancelled due to COVID-19 cancellations.
OngoingDigital humanities Products:
• Climates of Inequality:
• Indianapolis Local Story: “Inequity along the White River: Local Advocacy for Change”
• “Indianapolis Toxic Sites and Community Treasures” a virtual toxic tour highlighting both the sources of environmental harm and the community organizations working to provide solutions. Google Poly virtual tour created by Museum Studies students Alisha Baginski, Hannah Lundell, and Megan Perry, (Poly was closed June 1, 2021)
• Indy Environmental History Facebook page
• Indy Environmental Justice History – 2018 student projects:
• ‘A malodorous, septic stream’: An environmental justice approach to the architectural history of Indianapolis’ urban waterways. StoryMap by Elizabeth Kryder-Reid and Paula Brooks, August 19, 2021