Community and Stakeholder Engagement
The Center for Public Engagement with Science convenes groups of stakeholders and provides community engagement and research translation on a variety of topics for research centers within UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, including the UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility (CEHS) and the UNC Superfund Research Program (SRP). By informing the public about these environmental health issues, we aim to enable North Carolinians to make informed decisions regarding their exposure to specific environmental influences upon disease and reducing risk.
The UNC CEHS Community Engagement Core (CEC) connects researchers with public health professionals, stakeholder agencies and public audiences throughout NC. We have trained hundreds of public health practitioners to enhance their environmental health literacy and prepare them to address issues in their communities. The CEC fosters dialogue among Center researchers and stakeholders about research needs.
The Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES) facilitates statewide outreach for the NC Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program to increase knowledge about lead and other environmental health hazards in homes among health and childcare professionals and families in high-risk communities. We regularly co-convene the NC Lead and Healthy Homes Outreach Task Force, a network of local, state, and federal public health and housing agencies.
As part of the Jordan Lake Nutrient Management Study, the Center for Public Engagement with Science (CPES) engaged key stakeholders. In the first year, CPES conducted focus groups and interviews with key stakeholders to understand their views on how to best manage nutrients in the lake. In later years, CPES facilitated a series of research symposia, science seminars, and science cafes enabling researchers to share their findings with over 300 stakeholders.
In partnership with the UNC SRP, CPES increases understanding of harmful environmental exposures such as inorganic arsenic and develop solutions to prevent exposure to these contaminants in well water. Through our work with private well users, we responded to private well contamination in environmental justice communities in NC. Over six years, we tested wells and reported findings to over 1,500 private well users.
Since 2009, the Center for Public Engagement with Science has been engaging key stakeholders such as fishermen, regulatory agencies, and local stakeholders to improve communication of fish consumption advisories. In partnership with NC State University’s Center for Human Health and Environment and Duke University’s Superfund Research Center, we have convened a series of stakeholder meetings to explore challenges to FCA communication in North Carolina.
The NC PFAS Testing (PFAST) Network is a statewide research collaboration focused on improving understanding of exposure to PFAS chemicals across North Carolina, including testing for current PFAS levels in water and air samples. The Network is led by Dr. Jason Surratt (UNC Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering) and comprised of researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, NC State, Duke, UNC-Wilmington, UNC-Charlotte, ECU, and NC A&T.