Dr. Bernice J. deGannes Scott is an Associate Professor of Environmental Economics at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as a Board Member for the IEA. Through the course of her career in economics, the effects of a changing environment and the issues that may emerge from it have always been a topic of study and interest for her. While on track for tenure, Bernice co-wrote her first proposal, A Cost-Analysis of a Bioremediation System Used in the Treatment and Removal of Metals from Wastewater, with a colleague in the Spelman College Biology Department. Their research examined the potential impact of an integrated mixed microbial ecosystem on metal detoxification and its effects on heavy metal removal from contaminated water and soil. The proposal was accepted, and the project received $100,000 over a two-year period in funding. Bernice fondly looks back on this moment as an instance when her interests in environmental causes grew, consequentially expanding her professional specialties and her work in environmental economics that would soon follow.
Bernice is no novice to travel. In fact, the most profound understandings that shaped her professionally and personally, happened during what she’s dubbed “edu-tourism”, or traveling with the intention of bringing back worldly experiences to share with her students in the classroom. Through her study of development economics emerged a unique interest for women’s activism. She gives credit to the 1987 book, Development, Crisis, and Alternative Visions: Third World Women’s Perspectives by Gita Sen and Caren Grown. While abroad, Bernice listened to women of local communities who expressed that the biggest obstacle in their fight against environmental injustice and the subsequent inequalities that follow it, was a lack of resources. As she continues to study women in environmental activism Bernice makes note that although individual women become known globally for their efforts, “the majority are unsung heroes who focus on the task at hand…”. Bernice has done outstanding work to represent these unsung heroes, who are in many ways leading environmental activism in developing nations. At the IICE 2019 Conference on the Environment Bernice presented Indigenous Ecofeminism—Indian Women and the Environment and examined how indigenous ecofeminism is being used in environmental activism by women in India. In the coming year, she plans to present on the environmental justice movement in the United States.
A big motivator for Bernice is to do what she can to make the world a pleasant place to grow old in. To accomplish this, she aspires to keep good relationships with her students and stay involved, by mentoring and otherwise, with young people. When asked where she sees herself in ten years, Bernice responded with: Truthfully? I hope to be an “activist retiree” …there are many causes out there that need voices, including the environment. When Bernice is not teaching economics, she enjoys planting and gardening and taking time to read. She is currently reading Lead from the Outside: How to Build Your Future and Make Real Change by Stacey Abrams. Bernice is currently working on a book with two colleagues that compares the economic trajectories of Ghana and Malaysia.