Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
For more information visit: www.michaelanthonymendez.com
A BIOGRAPHY Towards Theory + Practice:
As an engaged scholar, I investigate through the fields of urban planning, public health, and Science & Technology Studies (STS) how the policymaking process and social movements influence sustainability and population health in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
My research agenda is motivated by more than a decade of senior-level experience in the public and private sectors, where I conducted applied research and actively engaged in the policymaking process. This included working for the California State Legislature as a senior consultant, lobbyist, gubernatorial appointee, and as vice chair of the city planning commission.
During my time at Yale, I have participated in state and national research policy initiatives, including serving as an advisor to California Air Resources Board member Dean Florez, and as a committee member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s work group on “Climate Vulnerability and Social Science Perspectives.” Most recently, I was appointed to the Board on Environmental Change & Society of the National Academies of Sciences (NAS). http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BECS/index.htm
Currently, I am completing my book, "Climate Change from the Streets" (Yale University Press, under contract). The book uses a combination of theoretical and policy-relevant research to analyze the narratives of climate change as articulated by social movements, experts, and subnational governments. Particular focus is placed on the story of how environmental justice groups in California are enacting multiscalar climate solutions, not only to tackle a global phenomenon, but also to address the needs of local communities already facing air pollution’s adverse impacts. Their example illustrates the potential for new directions in climate change policy worldwide.
From the streets of Oakland to the legislative halls of the state capitol, and beyond the tropical forests of Mexico and Brazil, in the book I trace environmental justice groups as they travel between geographies and policy scales to contest or legitimize climate policies. The movement of environmental justice actors across space and time demonstrates how these community-based groups are influencing climate change policy formation and implementation within and between nation-states. Through this multiscalar analysis, I argue that the integration of alternative types of knowledges and practice can inform better climate policy solutions.