Monica M. White earned a Ph.D. from Western Michigan University. She is an assistant professor of Environmental Justice in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a former Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of African American Studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign.
Her research investigates communities of color and grassroots organizations that are engaged in the development of sustainable community food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. Her most recent publications include, “Sisters of the Soil: Urban Gardening as Resistance Among Black Women in Detroit.” Race/Ethnicity: Multicultural Global Contexts and “D-Town Farm: African American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit” forthcoming in Environmental Practice.
Dr. White has received several grants and was awarded the Wayne State Humanities Center Faculty Fellowship Award for the 2009-2010 academic year for a project entitled, “Emergent Cityscapes: Communities of color, urban farming and the environment in Detroit.” The objective for this work is to examine how citizens of the city of Detroit engage in community gardening as a means of renegotiating their relationship with the environment, eschewing reliance on external political structures to solve community problems and re-creating the city from the bottom up. Through an examination of community gardeners, this research provides an alternative perspective on the persistent representation of Detroit as a site of urban decay that is in ruins.
Because of her research on the urban gardening movement in Detroit, Dr. White has been invited to testify before the Michigan House of Representatives Urban Policy Committee on the importance of urban agriculture and how state government may assist its continued development. She was also appointed to the Food Justice Task Force sponsored by the Institute for Agricultural Trade Policy (IATP). In addition to her policy work, she also maintains a highly ranked and reviewed blog (soil2soul) and has been invited to speak at over twenty community organizations, colleges and universities.