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Your Environment. Your Health.

Brown University

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Robert Vanderslice (Rhode lsland Department of Health)
Grant Number: P42ES13660
Funding Period: 2005-2020

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The goal of the Community Engagement Core (CEC) is to advance science through a deliberative and participatory process of community-based engagement, education, research, and advocacy in order to improve public health and inform public health policy. The CEC will strengthen existing relationships and forge new partnerships with non-governmental community organizations that represent residents impacted by specific Rhode Island Superfund and Brownfield sites contaminated with complex hazardous substances: Blackstone River Watershed Council (Peterson/Puritan Superfund site); Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council (Centredale Manor Superfund site), Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (Gorham/Textron site), and Urban Pond Procession (Mashapaug Pond). The CEC will engage the Rhode Island Indian Council and Narragansett Tribal leaders, elders, adults, and youth through community-based participatory study so that they will be able to address their environmental and environmental health concerns in a way that connects cultural ways of knowing with technical and scientific knowledge. In working with the Narragansett Tribe, the CEC will assess the impact of land and watershed contamination on Tribal members' health.

CEC will work to enhance long-term, mutually beneficial, bidirectional knowledge exchange by:

  1. Facilitating opportunities for SRP scientists to understand the social and economic contexts of their research and for community members and non-governmental community organizations to gain awareness and understanding of SRP research.
  2. Increasing opportunities for community-centered environmental leadership.
  3. Promoting environmental health literacy through innovative collaborative strategies with high schools in affected communities.

CEC aims to build the capacity to conduct Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) in Rhode Island and seek opportunities to integrate HIAs into the state's sustainability strategic planning process and environmental health policies. CEC will continue to advocate for environmental justice to reduce or eliminate environmental exposures and promote public health by assisting state regulators and legislators with systematic analyses of proposed and existing environmental health policies and regulations to improve their efficacy. In order to accomplish these goals, the CEC will employ innovative, multi-tiered collaborative strategies (engage, educate, empower) to support the needs of these communities and address their environmental and environmental health issues. The CEC has co-signed a Memorandum of Understanding with each partner. A jointly developed scope of work establishes objectives and outlines the project plan, roles and responsibilities, and the mechanisms for sustaining an effective working relationship. Depending upon the project, development, implementation, and evaluation will follow established community-based participatory research, health impact assessment, or other valid and reliable research methodologies.

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