Paul Mohai, Ph.D.


Ph.D. Environmental Sociology and Environmental/Natural Resource Policy, 1983, Pennsylvania State University

M.S. Statistics and Environmental Science, 1976, State University of New York-Syracuse

B.A. With Distinction, Mathematics, 1971, University of California-Berkeley

Teaching and research interests are focused on environmental justice, public opinion and the environment, and influences on environmental policy making. A founder of the Environmental Justice Program at the University of Michigan. Current research includes understanding the causes of disproportionate environmental burdens in people of color communities and the role that environmental factors play in accounting for racial and socioeconomic disparities in health. A Principal Investigator of the 1990 and 2002 Detroit Area Studies (DAS), Professor Mohai is also seeking to understand the root causes of environmental concern and why such concern has become a worldwide phenomenon. He recently co-authored with colleagues Robert D. Bullard, Robin Saha, and Beverly Wright a 20th anniversary update to the historic and influential 1987 report "Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States".

Awards and Grants:
Because of his longtime interest, work, and leadership in the field of Environmental Justice, Professor Mohai was invited in 2007 to become a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC). In 2002 he was appointed Faculty Investigator of the University of Michigan's 2002 Detroit Area Study (DAS). Because of his work on examining the role of environmental factors in accounting for racial and socioeconomic disparities in health and mortality, he was appointed in August 2002 as Faculty Associate in the Social Environment and Health Program in the Survey Research Center of the Institute for Social Research (ISR). In June 2001, Professor Mohai was awarded a 3 year grant by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate the causes of race and income disparities in the distribution of hazardous wastes sites in the U.S. This grant represents the first major award to SNRE by the NSF for conducting research in the new field of Environmental Justice, which Prof. Mohai and colleagues at SNRE helped to create in the early 1990s.

Research Interests:
Research interests include: 1) understanding the causes of disproportionate pollution burdens in low-income and people of color communities; 2) assessing the role of environmental factors in explaining racial and socioeconomic disparities in health; 3) understanding the nature of public attitudes, both domestically and internationally, toward environmental and resource issues and how these change over time; 4) understanding the factors contributing to citizen activism; 5) understanding the nature of interest-group behavior and influence on policy making.

Current/Recent Research:

  • Through a recent Ford Foundation grant, Professor Mohai is working with a consortium of researchers in California, Massachusetts, and Michigan to examine the distribution and impact of pollution burderns across the U.S.
  • He is also analyzing the distribution of hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities nationally and their proximity to residents based on racial and socioeconomic factors. Hypotheses are being constructed and tested to assess various explanations of why disproportionate numbers of low-income individuals and people of color live near such sites.
  • In addition Professor Mohai is working with researchers in the School of Public Health and the Institute for Social Research to investigate what role environmental factors play in accounting for racial and socioeconomic disparities in health.
  • Professor Mohai is working with colleagues Steven R. Brechin and Solange Simoes to investigate the various dimensionalities (or meanings) of the environment, how environmental concern is formed, what values are linked to that concern, and what actions people are taking to address their concern. Comparative studies have been completed in the Detroit Metropolitan Area, Michigan; Beijing, China; and Belo Horizonte, Brazil to understand more fully why concern for the environment has become a global phenomenon.

Teaching Interests:
Interested in helping students to better understand human-environment interactions and to develop their critical thinking, analytic skills and scholarship.

Current/Recent Teaching:
ENVIRON 345 - Environmental Public Opinion Analysis; NRE 566 - Public Opinion and the Environment; NRE 593 - Environmental Justice: New Directions; NRE 677 - Environmental Quality, Schools, and Health

Selected Publications:

  • Lee, Sangyun, and Paul Mohai. 2011. “Environmental Justice Implications on Brownfield Redevelopment in the United States.” Society & Natural Resources: In press.
  • Mohai, Paul, Byoung-Suk Kweon, Sangyun Lee, and Kerry Ard. 2011. “Air Pollution Around Schools Is Linked To Poorer Student Health And Academic Performance.” Health Affairs 30(5): 852-862.
  • Mohai, Paul, Solange Simoes, and Steven R. Brechin. 2010. “Environmental Concerns, Values, and Meanings in the Beijing and Detroit Metropolitan Areas." International Sociology 25(6): 1–42.
  • Mohai, Paul, Paula Lanz, Jeff Morenoff, James House, and Richard P. Mero. 2009. “Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Residential Proximity to Polluting Industrial Facilities: Evidence from the Americans' Changing Lives Study.” American Journal of Public Health 99 (S3): S649-S656.
  • Mohai, Paul, David N. Pellow, and Timmons Roberts. 2009. "Environmental Justice." Annual Review of Environment and Resources 34:405–30.
  • Bullard, Robert D., Paul Mohai, Robin Saha, and Beverly Wright. 2008. "Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: Why Race Still Matters after All of These Years." Environmental Law 38(2): 371-411.
  • Mohai, Paul. 2008. “Equity and the Environmental Justice Debate.” Research in Social Problems and Public Policy 15: 21–49. 
  • Bullard, Robert D., Paul Mohai, Robin Saha, and Beverly Wright. 2007. Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty 1987-2007: Grassroots Struggles to Dismantle Environmental Racism in the United States. Cleveland OH: United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministry.
  • Mohai, Paul, and Robin Saha. 2007. “Racial Inequality in the Distribution of Hazardous Waste: A National-Level Reassessment.” Social Problems 54(3): 343-370.
  • Mohai, Paul, and Robin Saha. 2006. “Reassessing Racial and Socioeconomic Disparities in Environmental Justice Research.” Demography 43(2): 383-399.
  • Ghimire, Dirgha J., and Paul Mohai. 2005. Environmentalism and Contraceptive Use: How People in Less Developed Settings Approach Environmental Issues.” Population & Environment 27(1): 29-61.
  • Saha, Robin, and Paul Mohai. 2005. “Historical Context and Hazardous Waste Facility Siting: Understanding Temporal Patterns in Michigan.” Social Problems 52 (4): 618-648.
  • Mohai, Paul. 2003. "Dispelling Old Myths: African American Concern for the Environment." Environment 45 (5): 11-26. (Cover Article for the June 2003 issue.)
  • Mohai, Paul, and David Kershner. 2002. Race and Environmental Voting in the U.S. Congress. Social Science Quarterly 83 (1): 167-189.
  • Mohai, Paul, and Bunyan Bryant. 1998. Is There a ?Race? Effect on Concern for Environmental Quality? Public Opinion Quarterly 62 (4): 475-505.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1997. Gender Differences in the Perception of Most Important Environmental Problems. Race, Gender, & Class 5 (1): 153-169.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1996. Environmental Justice or Analytic Justice? Re-Examining Historical Hazardous Waste Landfill Siting Patterns in Metropolitan Texas. Social Science Quarterly 77 (3): 500-507.
  • Mohai, Paul, and Pamela Jakes. 1996. The Forest Service in the 1990s: Is It Headed in the Right Direction? Journal of Forestry. 94(1): 31-37.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1995. The Demographics of Dumping Revisited: Examining the Impact of Alternate Methodologies in Environmental Justice Research. Virginia Environmental Law Journal. 13(4): 615-653.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1995. The Forest Service Since the National Forest Management Act: Assessing Bureaucratic Response to External and Internal Forces for Change. Policy Studies Journal. 23(2): 247-252.
  • Thomas, Jennifer, and Paul Mohai. 1995. Racial, Gender, and Professional Diversification in the Forest Service from 1983-1992. Policy Studies Journal. 23(2): 296-309.
  • Ginger, Clare, and Paul Mohai. 1993. The Role of Data in the EIS Process: Evidence from the BLM Wilderness Review. Environmental Impact Assessment Review. 13(2): 109-139.
  • Bryant, Bunyan, and Paul Mohai, eds. 1992. Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1992. Men, Women, and the Environment: An Examination of the Gender Gap in Environmental Concern and Activism. Society and Natural Resources. 5(1): 1-19
  • Mohai, Paul, and Bunyan Bryant. 1992. Environmental Racism: Reviewing the Evidence. In B. Bryant and P. Mohai (eds.) Race and the Incidence of Environmental Hazards: A Time for Discourse. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Mohai, Paul, and Bunyan Bryant. 1992. Environmental Injustice: Weighing Race and Class as Factors in the Distribution of Environmental Hazards. University of Colorado Law Review. 63(4): 921-932.
  • Mohai, Paul. 1990. Black Environmentalism. Social Science Quarterly. 71(4): 744-765.
  • Mohai, P. 1987. "Public Participation and Natural Resource Decision Making: The Case of the RARE II Decisions." Natural Resources Journal 27(1): 123-155.
  • Mohai, P., and B. W. Twight. 1987. "Age and Environmentalism: An Elaboration of the Buttel Model Using National Survey Evidence." Social Science Quarterly 68(4): 798-815.
  • Mohai, P. 1985. "Public Concern and Elite Involvement in Environmental-Conservation Issues." Social Science Quarterly 66(4): 820-838.


3520 Dana

(734) 763-4598

3360 ISR