In 2017 Catherine Flowers, executive director and founder of the Alabama Center for Rural Enterprise (ACRE), became a Franklin Humanities Institute Practitioner-in-Residence.  This latest development continues a partnership between The Duke Human Rights Center@FHI and the Nicholas School of the Environment, which began working with Flowers and ACRE in the fall of 2014. The partnership led to the creation of the Environmental Justice Community Research Project in the summer of 2015. The students involved with this project conducted field research to provide a foundation for understanding the convergence between environmental justice, poverty, and access to sanitation infrastructure, and to enable further research on how to address these problems and mitigate their consequences.  

This year, Flowers’s position at FHI has opened up several opportunities for cross-campus collaboration between undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty from the Duke Human Rights Center@FHI, Nicholas School of the Environment, the Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Duke Law School, the Pratt School of Engineering, and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions

In the Spring of 2017 doctoral and professional students from the the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) and the Duke Divinity School received a D-SIGN grant through Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke to get involved with the project. 

This interdisciplinary team will continue to work with community members to address the interlaced physical, financial, legal, and political barriers to sanitation access and evaluate potential solutions to improve wastewater treatment in Lowndes County, Alabama.  For more information on this project and how to get involved, please contact Emily Stewart:  

In the past year Catherine Flowers shared about ACRE’s work through interviews, guest blog posts, speaking to classes and participating in panel discussions.  In May, she sat down with Left of Black host and Duke Professor Mark Anthony Neal to discuss her work in Lowndes County.

In April, Flowers spoke with Frank Stasio on WUNC’s The State of Things.  You can stream that episode from the WUNC website.  That month Flowers also spoke on a panel with former SNCC activists about her experience organizing in Lowndes County “Organizing Lowndes County: Then & Now,” co-sponsored by DHRC@FHI, Duke University Libraries, and the Center for Documentary Studies.

An interview with Flowers was also featured on the Duke Faith and Leadership website, and she wrote about the importance of civic engagement in promoting environmental justice and confronting climate change as a guest blogger for the Duke Office of Civic Engagement.   

We will continue to update you on Catherine Flowers’s work as Practitioner-in-Residence.  In the meantime, you can learn more about the history of the ACRE and DHRC@FHI partnership here.