Dr. Mohammed Rafi Arefin receives Glenda Laws Award

We are pleased to announce that Assistant Professor Dr. Mohammed Rafi Arefin has been honoured with the esteemed Glenda Laws Award. This annual recognition bestowed by the American Association of Geographers (AAG) celebrates outstanding contributions to geographic research on social issues. Honouring Glenda Laws, a passionate geographer dedicated to social justice and policy issues, the award highlights early to mid-career scholars who exemplify these principles in their work. As part of the accolade, Dr. Arefin (he/him) will be invited to contribute a publication to Social and Cultural Geography. 

Dr. Arefin’s research focuses on urban environmental politics, exploring the political ecologies of urban sanitation and housing in a variety metropolitan centres across the globe. Drawing from disciplines such as discard studies, urban political ecology, climate and environmental justice, his work delves into the intricate relationships between power, urban infrastructure, and inequality. Dr. Arefin has explored these interests in a long-term research project examining Cairo’s garbage and sewerage systems, shedding light on sanitation as a site of both state repression and popular resistance. Notably, Dr. Arefin’s efforts extend beyond academia. He worked tirelessly to raise international awareness about the incarceration of political activists in Egypt ahead of the UN’s COP27 climate summit in Sharm el-Sheikh. 

“I’m grateful for this award and to my colleagues and community partners at the Centre for Climate Justice who supported and encouraged engaged, rigorous research with meaningful advocacy goals. Social, environmental, and climate justice research and advocacy are under threat when they are most needed. Engaged research at its best can identify the mechanisms of injustice from genocide and militarism to colonialism and austerity and make clear the levers for collective liberation. I hope that with community partners here in BC and beyond, me and my colleagues in the CCJ and UBC Geography can continue to work towards engaged research with transformative goals for a world in crisis,” says Arefin. 

In addition to his research, Dr. Arefin has been instrumental in establishing the Centre for Climate Justice (CCJ) at UBC co-leading the Centre on Housing Justice in the Climate Emergency. Extending the resources and research of the university beyond the academic community, the CCJ focuses on intersectional collaborations with diverse communities affected by the climate crisis. The CCJ aims to be “…a place of mobilization – connecting critical research and community engagement to meet the demands for climate justice”. 

Dr. Arefin’s current collaborative projects focus on the intersection of housing and climate justice and the politics of urban wastewater surveillance for public health. In recognition of his exceptional contributions to geographic research and his unwavering commitment to social justice, we extend heartfelt congratulations to Dr. Mohammed Rafi Arefin on receiving this award. His dedication to making our world more just and equitable through his research and advocacy inspires us. We look forward to witnessing his continued achievements and contributions to the field of geography.