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University of Pennsylvania

Superfund Research Program

Community Engagement Core

Project Leader: Edward A. Emmett
Co-Investigator: Frances K. Barg
Grant Number: P42ES023720
Funding Period: 2014-2020
View this project in the NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT)

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Project Summary (2014-2020)

The Community Engagement Core (CEC) will foster the bi-directional exchange of knowledge among researchers and community stakeholders. Core leaders will build on the history of constructive engagement with this community that has led to a choice of research projects for the Penn SRP which reflects community priorities. In their activities they will work in partnership with identified stakeholder groups for the Ambler and BoRit Superfund sites and surrounding communities. The researchers will identify information needs for each stakeholder group, including the economically disadvantaged and environmental justice (EJ) communities in close proximity to the site. The researchers will provide information on the needs and perspectives of different groups to facilitate constructive understanding of differing points of view. To reduce confusion, blame, anxiety, and mistrust the researchers will facilitate engagement and information exchange among the diverse and relevant constituencies in the Ambler area by creating opportunities for constituent groups, including government agencies, to learn from each other.

A Stakeholder Advisory Board with strong community participation will help guide the activities. Tools for maintaining communication with the community will include a website, quarterly newsletter, a yearly report, and presentations at community events and community fora. The researchers are identifying and responding to changing research priorities as the Superfund and remediation processes unfold. Community fora are being used to help generate research priorities and to transmit scientific findings. The researchers are developing information and messages and use communication channels appropriate for each constituent group within the community, reflecting the economic, racial and ethnic diversity.

The CEC works closely with each of the six research projects, ensuring bidirectional information flow. The researchers work closely with the Research Translation Core to maximize mutual understanding by government agencies and community constituents of implications of research findings and each other’s perspectives. The researchers help provide access to the site and to community constituents for trainees in the Interdisciplinary Training Core to help develop understanding of the diversity of constituent interests and to improve their understanding of the priorities and needs of each group. The Core researchers maintain a database of current and former Ambler residents who would like to volunteer to help in CEC activities or participate in Penn SRP research. Plans are underway for the reach, penetration, and actions that result from CEC activities to be evaluated.

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