Community engaged research and citizen science: Advancing environmental public health to meet the needs of our communities
December 8-9 at NC Biotech Center (Thursday afternoon/Friday full day)
Community engaged research has evolved and matured into well-accepted approaches for environmental health sciences. The National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continue to support grant programs that promote and advance community engagement in the full spectrum of research because of the recognized benefits to both the health of community residents and to our scientific understanding. In the last two years, there has been an increased national focus on citizen science and how it may be used to further scientific discovery. While the national conversation has primarily focused on natural and environmental sciences, there is the opportunity for a more robust discussion on citizen science in the context of environmental health research and environmental public health.
In response to the NAS Report on Exposure Science 21, the Research Triangle Environmental Health Collaborative convened a workshop, “Exposure Science in the 21st Century: Role of Citizen and Communities,” in November 2014. While the meeting touched upon many of the lessons learned from past community-engaged research programs and projects, it did not fully consider the important continuum of community engagement, including citizen science, in environmental public health. In the context of environmental health sciences, environmental justice, health disparities and disasters, community residents want to understand what they are exposed to, if the exposures pose a risk, and what can be done personally – as well as by society – to reduce, mitigate, or prevent continued exposure.
The purpose of this workshop will be to advance the conversation from 2014. Specifically it will acknowledge the successful projects and approaches, reflect upon past recommendations, identify new opportunities, and consider the application of citizen science in the context of environmental health disparities and additional dimensions. We want this report to increase awareness of the different community engaged research and citizen science approaches used in EHS research, inform ongoing discussions among federal partners about citizen science, and outline next steps to meet the needs of our communities.