2018 Fromkin Awardee to Research Environmental Justice Issues

photo of Ryan Holifield
Ryan Holifield

Ryan Holifield, associate professor in the UWM Department of Geography, has been awarded the 2018 Annual Morris Fromkin Memorial Research Grant and Lectureship for his proposal “When Visions of Justice Collide: Critique, Justification, and the ‘Box Tunnel Controversy’ at Milwaukee’s Kinnickinnic River.”

His project, Holifield writes, “is to reorient, extend, and complete” his ongoing research on a little-known episode in the early 1930’s, a conflict over whether to enclose a residential stretch of the heavily polluted Kinnickinnic within a box tunnel.

On one side was Alderman Max Galasinski, who wanted the river concealed. On the other, was Charles B. Whitnall, secretary of the Milwaukee County Park Commission, who wished the river preserved as part of his parkway plan.

Holifield is interested in both fleshing out the history of these “two conflicting visions of environmental justice” and in understanding the dispute’s “implications for the development of theory in the subfield of urban political ecology.”

Among the resources he will access at the UWM Libraries will be images and papers related to Milwaukee’s Polonia.

A UWM faculty member since 2007, Holifield received his PhD in geography from the University of Minnesota, his MA in geography from the University of Georgia, and his BA in English from Duke.

Courses he has taught at UWM include “Introduction to Environmental Geography,” “Environmental Problems,” and “Urban Environmental Change and Social Justice.”

He has co-edited two books—The Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice (2018) and Spaces of Environmental Justice (2010)—and authored numerous articles, book chapters, presentations, and book reviews.

Holifield will present his findings this fall at the 49th annual Fromkin Lecture—the longest running lecture series on campus.

The Fromkin Grant and Lectureship is sponsored by the UWM Libraries. This year’s Fromkin committee was comprised of Ivan Ascher, Johannes Britz, Cary Costello, Michael Doylen, Gladys Mitchell-Walthour, Meg Noodin, and Max Yela.