Community oriented environmental science combines the inclusive, action-oriented goals of environmental justice communities and the rationalist methodologies of science in an effort to balance urgent social and physical needs with research protocols, precise analysis and carefully measured conclusions. Community-based participatory research acknowledges that local expertise and networks, adverse social and economic consequences of environmental degradation and community beliefs and attitudes are vital factors that affect both overall community health and research outcomes. A unique CBPR approach to inclusive outreach and education is Community Environmental Forum Theatre (CEFT), developed through the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Center in Environmental Toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch/Galveston TX. CEFT integrates the dramaturgy of Augusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed and the democratizing dialogic process of Paulo Freire into the design and implementation of environmental health research, community health care and education. CEFT projects throughout the Texas petrochemical belt have used this form of interactive workshop and energized public performance to increase knowledge of toxicological concepts, develop risk awareness, extend and strengthen coalitions, create action agendas and promote community advocacy skills. Boal image-making techniques help to deconstruct concepts such as exposure pathways, dose response, differential susceptibilities, multiple stressors/cumulative risk and the healthy worker effect. Image-based ethnographies provide insight into risk perceptions, risk communication outcomes and overarching community dynamics impacting environmental justice. CEFT project efficacy is evaluated via a multi-frame process focused on goals specific to the roles of the scientific/environmental health outreach specialist, the community development artist/practitioner and the advocate for environmental health and justice issues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law