|Award Winning Educator, Scholar, and Writer
A Leading Expert on the Green Economy, Participatory Action Research, and Climate ChangeGreening the Globe: Environmental Health, Educational Equity, and Social Justice
Revolutionary Urbanism: Race, Sustainability, and Environmental Justice in 21st Century Cities and Schools
Dr. Akom is a leading expert on the green economy, climate change, and educational equity. His research focuses on the links between race, environmental health, and educational equity in cities and schools; the role of the green economy in facilitating pathways out of poverty for vulnerable populations; and the role of local knowledge in the production of environmental health and educational equity. Professor Akom’s research and practice works to build partnerships between local residents, schools and universities, environmental and educational experts, community based organizations, labor unions, green businesses, and city planners working together to generate policy and planning solutions that improve community health, economic mobility, and the pedagogies and practices of community leaders and decision-makers.
Professor Akom is currently working with The California Endowment, and a number of non-profit organizations, to conceptualize a set of “Emerald city” projects and develop a set of “Green Health Equity” indicators; all aimed at promoting human health, job creation, and environmental sustainability. He is also working with the Ella Baker Center, the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, and the East Bay Green Corridor to create “Green Education Technology” (GET) academies that attract and engage students, especially low-income students, students of color, and other vulnerable populations who have been marginalized by the educational system, for career pathways into existing and emerging green energy careers.
In 2009 Professor Akom co-founded the Environmental Sustainability Planning Network (ESPN) a national learning and climate change action network working to improve the lives of residents in seven cities across the United States. The project team, which includes the California Center for Civic Participation, the Youth Planners Network, the Lawrence Berkeley Hall of Science, and the Global Metropolitan Studies Initiative at U.C. Berkeley, are drafting local and regional climate action plans and policies aimed at significantly reducing carbon emissions, securing land tenure, and improving economic opportunities, infrastructure and improving environmental health. The team is also conducting a youth participatory action research project culminating in the production of an Environmental Justice Bill of Rights.
Professor Akom is a 2010 recipient of a RIMI Investigator Award in Health Disparities Research from the National Center on Minority and Health Disparities. He is currently co-editing a book with Professor Jason Corburn from U.C. Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design/City Planning entitled: Revolutionary Urbanism: Race, Climate Justice, and the Politics of Pollution in Cities and Schools, which explains the nature of climate change in urban communities in the United States and abroad, the ways in which cities and schools in the global north and global south are responding to climate change, and the potential role for public and private partnerships to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis. Additionally, he is working on his first solo authored book, Ameritocracy: The Racing of our Nations School Children. He has received research support for his work from the National Institutes of Health, The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, The Charles Mott Foundation, The California Endowment, and the National Science Foundation. He has also served as a consultant on community based participatory action research processes and outcomes with major philanthropic organizations, departments of public health, school districts, and community based organizations in the United States as well as abroad. Professor Akom has held research appointments at the University of California, San Francisco, and UC Berkeley’s Institute for the Study of Social Change.