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.

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Available from: Elizabeth Hoover, Mar 18, 2014
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    • "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. "

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    • "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). "
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    • "" 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. "
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