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Image credit: Jane Addams Hull-House Museum/Eedahahm
Climates of Inequality: Stories of Environmental Justice
Host Institution: Rutgers University-Newark

Climates of Inequality:  Stories of Environmental Justice is a participatory public memory project launched in 2017 by students, educators, and community leaders in over 20 cities across the US and Latin America. Local teams work together to activate the histories of “frontline” communities: those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis but bear its heaviest burdens. Their multi-media portraits expose the roots of current environmental injustice, and share generations of frontline communities’ strategies for resistance, resilience, and mitigation. The project promotes future visions for confronting the climate crisis that understand, and undo, past environmental harms. By compiling these histories in an evolving, internationally traveling exhibit with local events at every stop, this project seeks to affirm frontline communities’ work and inspire others to action for climate and environmental justice.


States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories 
Host Institution: The New School

States of Incarceration is a collaboration of over 1000 students and others deeply affected by incarceration in 28 cities and counting. They grew up in a United States that incarcerates more of its people, including immigrants, than any country in the world – and at any point in its history. In 2015, when the project began, they witnessed a new bipartisan consensus that the criminal justice system is broken and the intense conflict over how to fix it.


They came together to ask: How did this happen? What new questions does the past challenge us to ask about what is happening now? To find answers, they examined their own communities’ histories. Through courses at universities led in collaboration with directly impacted leaders, local teams share stories, search archives, and visit correctional facilities. Each team creates one piece of the project’s traveling exhibition and website, and hosts public actions.


Together, these stories represent a diverse genealogy of the incarceration generation. It challenges all of us to remember our own past and use the insights of history to shape what happens next. 


Guantánamo Public Memory Project
Host Institution: Columbia University

Launched in Fall 2012, the Guantánamo Public Memory Project brought together over 300 students from 13 universities to research, document, and interpret the history of the US naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and foster public dialogue on the urgent questions it raises today. This project was the progenitor for HAL and for our coalition of community-curated projects. The project was motivated by a concern that the vitriolic public debate over “closing Guantánamo” was severely limited by ignorance of how GTMO had been “closed” before, and how it could open again. Students enrolled in courses, taught simultaneously across the country, that used nationally shared teaching resources that combined history, theories of memory and social change, and hands-on experience.

Students from around the country collaborated with more than 600 community stakeholders including Haitian refugees,
former service people, and attorneys representing current detainees, to explore GTMO's history from many perspectives, as well as the questions it raises today. Together they created a traveling exhibit, web platform, digital and physical archive, interview collection, and series of public dialogues. The exhibit has traveled for more than 3 years to 18 cities, with public dialogues in each place. More than 500,000 people will have had a face-to-face encounter with the exhibit, and many more online and through social media.


Rikers Public Memory Project

From its inception, the movement to shape Rikers’ future has always demanded public recognition of its past.  From the start of the #CLOSErikers campaign, Freedom Agenda, Create Forward, and the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), through its States of Incarceration project, strategically partnered to use history and memory to propel the movement forward. Now that Mayor de Blasio, an independent commission, and a growing number of New Yorkers have called for Rikers Island to be closed, Freedom Agenda, Create Forward, and HAL are exploring ways to ensure that Rikers is not forgotten and its memory is shaped by those who were detained there, their families, and their communities.

Making the closure of Rikers a reality and ensuring that its essential problems are never repeated, in New York City or elsewhere, requires powerful acts of imagination that illuminate the realities of the past and present while creating a more equitable vision for the future.​

While the immediate aim of the Rikers Public Memory project is to support the important campaign to close Rikers Island, this is just the beginning of an ongoing and dynamic process that uses public memory in pursuit of reparative justice for the communities that bear the mounting cost of mass incarceration.


HAL @ Rutgers University-Newark

Located at 54 Halsey Street Office 422 in Express Newark, Newark, NJ, the HAL Office is your gateway to a wealth of opportunities for engagement, learning, and community involvement.

At HAL, we pride ourselves on providing a diverse array of opportunities for Rutgers students to get involved and make a difference. Whether you're seeking internships, interested in our engaging courses, considering student employment opportunities, or simply in need of a welcoming space to study or unwind, our doors are open to you.

One of our key initiatives is the HAL Free School, a pioneering concept aimed at exploring alternative approaches to learning that are centered around anti-racist, anti-colonial, and community-focused principles. Through collaborative sessions involving students, community partners, and faculty, we aim to challenge traditional notions of education by incorporating innovative exercises, workshops, readings/media, and other interactive formats. This initiative not only enriches the educational experience of our participants but also fosters the development of resources that can be shared widely across our network.

In addition to our educational endeavors, we are proud to serve as a partner with the Food Pantry, acting as an Emergency Food Box Hub. We understand that students may face challenges, including food insecurity, and we are committed to providing support in every way possible. If you are a Rutgers student experiencing a food emergency and are unable to access the pantry, please feel free to visit our office. Your well-being is our priority, and we are here to assist you.

Whether you're interested in academic pursuits, community engagement, or simply seeking support during challenging times, the HAL Office at Rutgers University Newark is here to welcome you with open arms. Join us in our mission to create a more inclusive, empowered, and supportive campus community.


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