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Brown University

Superfund Research Program

Community Outreach Core

Project Leader: Phil Brown (Northeastern University)
Grant Number: P42ES013660
Funding Period: 2005-2021

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Project Summary (2005-2009)

The Community Outreach Core works in partnership with community-based organizations, in order to better understand and remediate existing contamination and to prevent future contamination. The Core also develops environmental health curriculum in collaboration with the Research Training Core. As well, the Core collaborates with the Research Translation Core in liaison with state and federal health and environmental agencies. This collaboration also involves conducting educational activities and providing organizational resources for physicians and other health providers, lawyers, environmental remediators, community development corporations, and local business.

Work with Community Partners
Working with community partners is a central activity. There is a rotating participation of community partners. In the first year, these partners are: ENACT (Environmental Neighborhood Awareness Committee of Tiverton), which has been dealing with contamination from coal gasification byproducts; Woonsaquatucket River Watershed Council, which is working on the Centredale Manor dioxin Superfund site, as well as working to revitalize the river and the six communities in the watershed; and English for Action, which creates environmentally-related innovative educational programs that positively impact immigrant neighborhoods through English for Speakers of Other Languages classes.

In working with community partners, the core seeks to: make environmental justice and community-based participatory research important components of Brown’s interaction with community partners; engage community groups more in the identification of specific environmental hazards, provide leadership training by experienced advocacy organizations; train community people in science, organizational skills, grant-writing, media work, and governmental relations; help community groups produce narrative accounts of their experiences through writing, photography, and video; invite community groups to make presentations at regular courses on campus; and use these academic-community interactions to promote collaborative learning projects in courses and for master’s theses and senior theses; and help build a local environmental justice and environmental health network.

Expand Environmental Health Curriculum Across the Campus
Core researchers bring the efforts of the community partners and other RI environmental health groups into many elements of the curriculum. This includes existing courses that already deal with such subjects, and with courses that do not yet have such components. In doing so, the core strengthens the focus on environmental justice, community-based participatory research, and research ethics. 

Conduct Lectures and Workshops on Environmental Health and Environmental Justice
The core provides an ongoing series of lectures and workshops on topics such as environmental factors and breast cancer, air pollution and asthma, unequal race and class distribution of environmental burdens, transportation justice and environmental justice, and research ethics in campus-community partnerships.

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