Working with communities to strengthen our research
One of the main priorities of the Environmental Health Sciences Center (EHSC) is to help develop partnerships between environmental health researchers and the communities where they work. EHSC’s Community Engagement Core (CEC) works with researchers and community groups to help develop this relationship, which focuses mainly on the San Joaquin Valley and other areas throughout rural California.
Through these CEC partnerships, a better understanding of what communities need helps shape the scientific research EHSC does. The CEC helps to:
- Facilitate the Community Stakeholder Advisory Committee (CSTAC). The CSTAC is an integral part of the CEC. It’s made up of government and community leaders in environmental health or justice organizations who are committed to bridging communities and academia to solve pressing health problems. CSTAC members guide research to address the needs of vulnerable populations in California’s San Joaquin Valley and collaborate directly with researchers on their Pilot Projects.
- Set community research priorities. Working with the CSTAC, the CEC manages a list of research priorities from the community. These priorities are based on environmental health impacts residents of the San Joaquin Valley experience as well as the issues environmental justice organizations identify. This list is available to researchers looking to develop Pilot Projects or other research proposals
- Provide researchers with training and mentoring. With our Community Based Participatory Research Training and one-on-one mentorship with faculty, the CEC helps scientists working on Pilot Projects or doing other research find new ways to incorporate community engagement in their work and build successful community partnerships.
- Run the Community Environmental Health Science Academy. CEC trains community leaders in concepts and methods of environmental health science to support informed participation in EHSC research. This event happens annually and focuses on a range of environmental health topics.
- Oversee the Environmental Health Sciences Writing Internship. CEC sponsors a writing internship in collaboration with the University Writing Program. EHSC writing interns host a blog where they publish articles and profiles of EHSC researchers, community leaders and environmental advocates who serve as community advisers for EHSC.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) also promotes community-engaged research through its Partnerships for Environmental Public Health. NIEHS provides funding for EHSC.
For more information about the Community Engagement Core contact:
Jonathan London, PhD, Community Engagement Core co-director
Tanya Khemet, Community Engagement Core co-director
Aubrey Thompson, Community Engagement Core program manager
Krista Haapanen, graduate student researcher