Brown Superfund Basic Research Program: A Multistakeholder Partnership Addresses Real-World Problems in Contaminated Communities

Department of Sociology, Center for Environmental Studies, International Relations Program, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 08/2008; 42(13):4655-62. DOI: 10.1021/es7023498
Source: PubMed


The NIEHS funds several basic and applied research programs, many of which also require research translation or outreach. This paper reports on a project by the Brown University Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP), in which outreach and research translation teams collaborated with state regulatory agency personnel and community activists on a legislative initiative to mitigate the financial impacts of living in a contaminated community. The Environmentally Compromised Home Ownership (ECHO) program makes home equity loans of up to $25,000 available to qualified applicants. This collaboration provides a case study in community engagement and demonstrates how research translation and outreach activities that are clearly differentiated yet well-integrated can improve a suite of basic and applied research. Although engaging diverse constituencies can be difficult community-engaged translation and outreach have the potential to make research findings more useful to communities, address some of the social impacts of contamination, and empower stakeholders to pursue their individual and collectively held goals for remediation. The NIEHS has recently renewed its commitment to community-engaged research and advocacy, making this an optimal time to reflect on how basic research programs that engage stakeholders through research translation and outreach can add value to the overall research enterprise.


Available from: Elizabeth Hoover, Mar 18, 2014
  • Source
    • "However, studies have shown that traditional USEPA outreach efforts typically follow a one-way communication model that aims to inform, change behavior, and assure populations that the determined risk is acceptable and that cleanup is underway (Chess and Purchell 1999; Cox 2013; NRC 1996). This communication strategy has a low rate of success, primarily because communities historically do not trust regulatory officials and scientists (White et al. 2014; Senier et al. 2008; Gaetke et al. 2008). Additionally, such outreach models generally do not involve the community in a meaningful way, as they fail to (1) modify participation formats to community characteristics and needs or (2) provide multiple formats for public participation. "

    07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s13412-015-0297-x
  • Source
    • "CBPR has been closely connected with environmental justice, both in funding mechanisms and in preferred research arrangements by environmental justice groups. Social scientists have played a central role in the expansion and institutionalization of federally-funded research on environmental justice, especially through programs funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (Baron et al. 2009, O'Fallon and Dearry 2002, Senier et al. 2008). Not surprisingly, professional recognition, publication opportunities, and university training programs have grown in tandem with such funding (Brown et al. 2010). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Community-engaged research on environmental problems has reshaped researcher-participant relationships, academic-community interaction, and the role of community partners in human subjects protection and ethical oversight. We draw on our own and others' research collaborations with environmental health and justice social movement organizations to discuss the ethical concerns that emerge in community-engaged research. In this paper we introduce the concept of reflexive research ethics: ethical guidelines and decision-making principles that depend on continual reflexivity concerning the relationships between researchers and participants. Seeing ethics in this way can help scientists conduct research that simultaneously achieves a high level of professional conduct and protects the rights, well-being, and autonomy of both researchers and the multiple publics affected by research. We highlight our research with community-based organizations in Massachusetts, California, and Alaska, and discuss the potential impacts of the community or social movement on the research process and the potential impacts of research on community or social movement goals. We conclude by discussing ways in which the ethical concerns that surface in community-engaged research have led to advances in ethical research practices. This type of work raises ethical questions whose answers are broadly relevant for social movement, environmental, and public health scholars.
    04/2012; 11(2):161-176. DOI:10.1080/14742837.2012.664898
  • Source
    • "" Engagement work does not challenge grassroots movements or social protests. It does not seek, as some critics complain (Mehaffy 2005; Michener et al. 2009; Milburn et al. 2009; O'Brien 2009; Ochoa Jr and Nash 2009; O'Meara 2008; Orians et al. 2009; Ranghelli and Craig 2010; Rockwell 2008; Rycraft and Dettlaff 2009; Scull and Cuthill 2010; Senier et al. 2008; Sirajblatchford 1995; Stoecker 2008), to de-radicalize a social movement. Instead it complements other forms of praxis. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In August 2010, we gathered for the sixtieth annual meeting of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (SSSP). Ours is not a professional association per se, such that our mission or purpose is not to advance careers within the academy or in applied fields of the social sciences. We are different: Our purpose is to facilitate, communicate, and promote the work done by those who pursue social justice locally, nationally, and in the wider world. Thus, this article brings into focus social justice work by using illustrations of the different types of scholarship that characterize it. My intent is to plait three strands of inquiry. First, I identify and summarize the key fea-tures of social activist and social advocacy scholarship, that which is typically recognized as so-cial justice work. Second, based on those features, I posit that critical community engagement work is a form of social justice work that SSSP can and should recognize and promote. Third, to examine some of the best social justice work, and to tie together advocacy and engagement work, I visit what SSSP has honored, since 1964, with the C. Wright Mills award. A number of the award winners are exemplars of critical community engagement scholarship. Before turning to the work of many SSSP members, I acknowledge that organizations, such as Project South, the Innocence Project, and the Center for the Study of Social Justice at the University of Tennessee, commit all their work to social justice. Further, I recognize the importance of what researchers do outside the boundaries of the social sciences. Natural and man-made disasters need responses, and better yet, preventive practices that depend on schol-ars and practitioners from every imaginable field of work. As do some of the most persistent social problems, such as war, inadequate food, and unclean water. The social sciences cannot claim exclusive ownership of social justice work. For example, at Purdue University, an agronomist named Gabisa Ejeta is the 2009 World Food Prize winner. His research develops sorghum that is resistant to a specific weed that kills the grain. He does this work because he is deeply committed to searching for solutions for one of the world's most basic social problems, i.e., starvation. He calls his work "Purpose-Driven Science." His mission is to reduce hunger throughout the world, especially in his native Ethiopia and other African nations, without making them dependent on the United States to produce grain seeds. With Ejeta's approval, I use his terminology, "purpose driven," throughout this article.
    Social Problems 02/2011; 58(1):1-20. DOI:10.1525/sp.2011.58.1.1 · 1.23 Impact Factor
Show more