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Posts from the ‘Hutchins Lectures’ Category

Southern Waters & Environmental Justice

Almost 50 years after the passage of the Clean Water Act, we often take for granted that our federal, state, and local governments will provide and protect clean and safe drinking water for all Americans. Yet as the Flint, Michigan water crisis and OWASA’s recent water main breaks and shortages remind us, this crucial resource can not be taken for granted.

Challenges to ensuring clean and safe drinking water in North Carolina actually seem to be on the rise. A recent study found that 29.2% of the private wells sampled in Wake County tested positive for bacterial contaminants, leading to increased incidence of gastrointestinal illness and emergency room visits. Moreover, exposure to contaminated drinking water were found to disproportionately affect predominantly black neighborhoods, increasing racial health disparities in North Carolina.

This panel will feature experts on a variety of subjects that affect clean water in North Carolina and throughout the South: coal ash, hog waste, PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and challenges from urban and suburban growth and development. Their conversation will focus on the greatest threats to clean water in our state and region, and they will offer a series of tangible steps that any concerned citizens can take.

Join us for this event on 7pm on Thurs, Oct 24 in Howell, Room 115. Free and open to the public. 


Jackie MacDonald Gibson is Associate Professor of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health. Her lab recently received a $300,000 grant from the NC Collaboratory to conduct testing for well water contamination around the state, as well as developing low-cost testing equipment that make it easier for small communities to monitor their own water quality.

Detlef Knappe is the S. James Ellen Distinguished Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at NC State University. He is a Trustee of the American Water Works Association’s (AWWA’s) Water Science and Research Division, and he serves in editorial roles for the journals Water Science and Drinking Water Engineering and Science. His groundbreaking work on emerging contaminants helped alert scientists and regulators to the emerging threat from PFAS in North Carolina’s drinking water.

Naeema Muhammad is Co-Director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network. She has worked with communities dealing with waste from industrial hog operations in eastern North Carolina in conjunction with two NIEHS funded grants. She has co-authored articles on community-based participatory research, and she serves on the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)’s advisory board for Environmental Justice & Equity.

Lisa Sorg is an environmental reporter for NC Policy Watch. She covers issues including social justice, pollution, climate change, and energy policy. Before moving to her current position, Lisa served as editor and investigative reporter for INDY Week, covering the environment, housing and city government.

Megan Raisle is a senior undergraduate at UNC pursuing a double major in Environmental Studies and Geography, with a minor in History. She has worked on environmental issues on campus since arriving at UNC, serving as the co-chair for the Environmental Affairs Committee within the Executive Branch of Student Government from Fall 2017-Spring 2019.

Click the icons to learn more about each drinking water contaminant.


Hog Waste

Coal Ash

 Click here to listen to a short, NC Policy Watch podcast featuring Lisa Sorg if you’d like to have a brief overview of all three issues before diving deeper.
-December 24, 2018


Available for Viewing, “White Women and the Politics of Racial Inequality” with Dr. Elizabeth McRae


White Women and the Politics of Racial Inequality

This fall, our Hutchins Conversation featured the work of Dr. Elizabeth McRae of Western Carolina University. In her book, Mothers of Massive Resistance, she shows that the somewhat mundane, everyday efforts of white women in the 1920s to 1970s allowed and continues to allow white supremacist politics to have such a strong hold on our policies, educational systems, social welfare systems, and more. This conversation was moderated by Dr. Katherine Charron of NC State, and they discussed how white women edited textbooks, protested school integration, protested busing, facilitated essay contests to justify a separated state, reported children being of mixed race, and took part in other efforts to keep a segregated state and further white supremacist politics. The full video is available here, otherwise take a moment to watch some highlights from our conversation below.


“What they believe will happen if they aren’t a good white mother is their daughters will marry someone else’s black sons.”

In this clip of our talk, White Women and the Politics of Racial Inequality, Dr. Elizabeth McRae talks how “being a good mother” became a racialized call to action for segregationist white women.


“We have to recognize that these women weren’t segregationists and political active because they were deluded about their interests, they believed that this was in their best interest.”

During this conversation, Dr. Elizabeth McRae also addressed the common notion that white women, through voting for conservative candidates that would otherwise seem to enforce policies that do not support their well-being, are in fact voting in what they have decided in their best interest. Furthermore, she addresses that women’s political consciousness is not monolithic and that someone women care about what is best for their children.

Watch the full video of our conversation with Dr. McRae here.

Hutchins Conversation: Jason Oliver Chang, Tues, Mar 20 at 4:30 pm

Anti-Chinese Racism and the Making of the Mexican Mestizo

Jason Oliver Chang is Assistant Professor of History and Asian American Studies at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. At UConn he is an affiliated faculty member with the Maritime Studies Institute as well as the Institute of Latinx, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies and the Associate Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Institute. In 2010 Jason earned his PhD in Comparative Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of Chino: Anti-Chinese Racism in Mexico, 1880-1940 (University of Illinois Press, 2017) and co-author of Asian America: A Primary Source Reader (Yale University Press, 2017). He has published articles in the Journal for Asian American Studies, the Pacific Historical Review, and the Journal of Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures in the Americas. Jason’s current work rewrites Asian American history from the perspective of Chinese, South Asian, and Filipino sailors to think how racial formations work at sea.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the University Room at Hyde Hall. Special thanks to our co-sponsors: the Department of American Studies, the Institute for the Study of the Americas, the Department of Asian Studies, the Carolina Asia Center, the Chinese Undergraduate Student Association, the Carolina Hispanic Association, the Latina/o Studies Program, the Center for Global Initiatives, and the Institute for Arts and Humanities.

Hutchins Conversation: Lisa McKeithan, Tues, March 6 at 4:30 pm

Health and the Humanities in Practice: Using a Liberal Arts Approach to Rural Health Challenges in North Carolina

Lisa McKeithan (far right) and the CommWell Health team accept an award for their work

Lisa McKeithan, MS, CRC, is Director and HIV/AIDS Researcher at CommWell Health Clinics in Dunn, North Carolina, an award-winning not-for-profit Federally Qualified Health Center. McKeithan is Director of CommWell Health’s NC-REACH program, which serves patients who are both HIV-positive and homeless. The National Rural Health Association named it Outstanding Program of the Year, and McKeithan the Outstanding Educator of the Year. In conversation with Dr. Martha King, Teaching Assistant Professor of Medical Anthropology at UNC-Chapel Hill, McKeithan will discuss the ways in which the humanities and social sciences shape her approach to healthcare in the rural South.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in 039 Graham Memorial Hall.

Hutchins Lecture: Robert Gipe, Thurs, March 9 at 4:30 pm


“Storytellers and Sociopaths: Thoughts on How We Define Reality from Post-Obama Appalachia”

This lecture will explore connections between the rich storytelling tradition, grinding economic challenges, hard political choices, despair, and hope experienced by people in the southeast Kentucky coalfields. Gipe will read from his previously published fiction, and he will address the creation of the Higher Ground community performances, a series of oral history-based theater events in Harlan County, Kentucky which have been running from 2003 to the present.

Gipe_TrampolineRobert Gipe is the author of the award-winning illustrated novel Trampoline (Ohio University Press, 2015). His short story “Dreadful Crash” appeared in the 21C Fiction Issue of Southern Cultures (Fall 2016). Gipe teaches at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College, where he directs the Appalachian Studies program. He has worked previously as a pickle packer, a forklift driver, and a DJ.

This lecture, to be held in 039 Graham Memorial Hall, is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.