Dessertation Defense: Environmental Justice and Governance Dynamics of Supply Chains in the Livestock Sector

DateJanuary 11, 2022

Time2:00 pm EST

Zoom Linkhttps://umich.zoom.us/j/6605563009 Meeting ID: 660 556 3009 Passcode: 01112022


TitleEnvironmental Justice and Governance Dynamics of Supply Chains in the Livestock Sector


AbstractIn 2006, the United Nations published Livestock’s Long Shadow, a landmark study that documented the global environmental impacts associated with livestock production (Steinfeld et al., 2006). Since then, academic studies, popular publications, and Hollywood documentaries (e.g., Cowspiracy, Before the Flood, What the Health) have conveyed the heavy burden unsustainable livestock consumption levels have on the environment and society. Despite this notable attention, there has been little effort to understand the distributive local environmental impacts, especially where burdens follow familiar lines of vulnerability. This dissertation contributes to both research and practice by addressing this critical challenge. Through five chapters prepared as journal articles, this dissertation 1) Identified and measured the location and size of ~15,700 pig and cattle CAFOs across the U.S. using high resolution remote sensing techniques, and systematically clarified their relationship to local air quality measures and the socio-demographic characteristics of adjacent communities; 2) Mapped a specific beef supply chain, and constructed linkages with beef suppliers and sub-suppliers at high geographic specificity, and tried to clarify supply chain’s relationship to California’s hotspot of PM2.5 and the environmental and health cost of living across the production phases of supply chains for nearby communities; and 3) Developed a new approach to quantify power structure across an entire supply chain, considering both internal and external nodes for strengthening the relationships in the chain in order to induce change to the environmental and social outcomes of the supply chain. Intellectual Merit: This dissertation represented a sustained effort to combine fields exploring EJ with those exploring supply chain governance in pursuit of a deeper knowledge of social and environmental impacts that need change. It sought to explore avenues to reshape the future of Supply Chain Governance by first advancing a quantitative methodology to explore gaps and inefficiencies in the governance mechanism of supply chains and then by giving compelling empirical evidence for impact reduction and improvement of EJ through environmental governance. Broader Impacts: This dissertation provides rigorous, evidence-based decision support to the growing number of supply chains to build a more effective governance mechanism, one that will improve the environmental and social issues associated with the supply chain structure. The study will also contribute to the public awareness of disproportionate localized environmental burdens, and it will empower marginalized communities affected by the supply chains.


ChairJoshua Newell