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Dr. Richard Milligan

Assistant Professor    Assistant Professor and Faculty Advisor for Dual Degree Program

B.S. Mathematics, B.S. Physics, and B.A. English—University of Georgia 2002
M.A. English—University of Saskatchewan 2007
Ph.D. Geography—University of Georgia 2016


Drawing from political ecology and environmental justice scholarship, I study the intersections of race and environment. My research ranges from historical geographies of the role of environmental knowledge in European colonialism to contemporary sites of environmental justice and racial disparities in environmental governance. My current research includes ongoing collaborations on the politics of pipelines on indigenous territories in North America and several projects on rivers and watersheds in the U.S. Southeast, with an increasing focus on urban and suburban geographies of race and nature in Atlanta.

Research Interests

Geographies of Race and Environment; Water Governance; Environmental Justice; Political Ecology; Indigenous Geographies; Geographies of Activism and Social Movements; Urban Geography; Climate Justice; Feminist Theory; Race Theory; Rivers


Research Activities

Socio-ecological Segregation in Urban Watersheds

Race, Nature, and the Territory of Biopolitics in the Altamaha River System

Politics of Indigenous Knowledge and Representation in Environmental Assessment

Racial Disparities in River and Watershed Governance in Metro Atlanta


Dr. Milligan spent most of his childhood in the U.S. Southeast, and went to high school in South Georgia. After studying Math, Physics, and English as an undergraduate at the University of Georgia, he worked for several years as an ecological technician researching avian species and associated plant communities. He then completed a Master’s thesis at the University of Saskatchewan examining the role of 18th-century natural history and travel writing in the colonization of North America. He also became active in river conservation organizations as well as anti-racist community organizing. These experiences led to his interest in dissertation research on racial disparities in environmental governance, the lack of racial diversity in nonprofits, and community groups working on river conservation. He has been active since 2011 in organizing for immigrant justice with the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition and Freedom University. Dr. Milligan is a founding member of the Georgia River Survey and has volunteered for many years with river and watershed organizations including the Upper Oconee Watershed Network, South River Watershed Alliance, the Altamaha Riverkeepers, and the Georgia River Network.


Black, S, R Milligan & N Heynen (2016) “Solidarity in Climate/Immigrant Justice Direct Action: Lessons from Movements in the U.S. South.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. Forthcoming.

McCreary, T & R Milligan (2014) “Pipelines, Permits, and Protests: Carrier Sekani Encounters with the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.” Cultural Geographies, 21 (1): 115-129.

Milligan, R & T McCreary (2011) “Inscription, Innocence, and Invisibility: Early Contributions to the Discursive Formation of the North in Samuel Hearne’s A Journey to the Northern Ocean.” In A Baldwin, L Cameron, and A Kobayashi (eds.) Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada. University of British Columbia Press, 147-168.