|UW-L Author:||James Longhurst, Ph.D.
|Publisher:||Tufts University Press/UPNE|
Longhurst, James. Citizen Enviromentalists. Medford, MA: Tufts University Press/UPNE, 2010.
Longhurst cogently argues that the modern environmental movement’s significance lies less in its interest in the environment than in the ‘fundamental change in the relationship between citizens and their government.’ Using a case study of environmental debates about air pollution in Pittsburgh during the late 1960s and early 1970s, James Longhurst examines larger trends in citizen activism outside party politics, linking those trends with the rights revolution of the late twentieth century. He draws upon journalistic accounts, archival documents, legal records, and interviews to explore the actions and arguments of GASP (Group Against Smog and Pollution). This group of environmental activists gained access to political power through claims to citizenship and scientific expertise, supported by the organizational skills, social capital, and maternal rhetoric of middle-class women. Once they gained entry to a newly confrontational policy process, the group engaged in furious public debates over implementation, enforcement, and employment, all amid the decline of Pittsburgh’s industrial economy. The grassroots actions of GASP, and many other groups like it across the nation, show that new developments in policy-making, concepts of citizenship, and the long-standing tradition of middle-class women’s civic activism did more to drive the creation of the modern environmental movement than did changes in environmental philosophy."
About the Author
James Longhurst is an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. His interests are mostly related to urban environmental policy in the 20th century U.S., particularly when it comes to public involvement in policy decisions. He is a 2004 graduate of the "History and Policy" Ph.D. program at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This approach is meant to provide historical research and analysis that is useful in understanding, contextualizing, and critiquing current policy problems and solutions. His doctoral research focused on the rise of local environmental organizing in the United States and Pittsburgh in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This project used one environmental organization, Pittsburgh's Group Against Smog and Pollution or GASP, as a case study of the impact of new federal legislation and judicial philosophy on local organizing, implementation and enforcement. The doctoral dissertation was subsequently published as Citizen Environmentalists, produced in 2010 by Tufts University. Since the completion of that book, Longhurst has begun work on a new research project, examining the failures of practical bicycle commuting in U.S. cities in the 20th century, and the difficulties faced by federal and state policies intended to promote bicycle usage in the 21st century. This research has resulted in numerous public presentations and a number of works in progress or in press, including a book manuscript titled The Bike in the City, under contract with the University of Washington Press and expected in 2014.