Contested Illnesses Research Group
Brown University , Providence RI
Data included state and federal government documents used to establish the Long Island Breast Cancer study, the Silent Spring Institute, the Massachusetts Toxic Use Reduction Institute, and the VA-sponsored Gulf War research centers, as well as EPA documents on its small air particles conference. In addition, the project staff conducted semi-structured interviews with citizen activists, scientists, and government officials involved in the three contested illnesses, as well as with researchers at organizations that provide various forms of research aid to citizens. Ethnographic observation was carried out at four research and advocacy organizations working in these areas: Silent Spring Institute (breast cancer), Boston Environmental Hazard Center (Gulf War illnesses), Action for Community and Environment (asthma), and Toxic Use Reduction Institute. his research has expanded our understanding of public participation in science and improved our understanding of scientific disputes over environmentally induced diseases. By understanding the background and impact of public reactions, policymakers can be prepared for similar issues in the future. Because lay discovery has played a central role in detecting and studying environmentally induced diseases, this research can help in understanding lay forms of knowledge and lay attempts to seek science allies. It also demonstrates how professionals develop their theory, knowledge, and practice in response to these illnesses, and how these professionals undergo transformations of their approaches to traditionally accepted canons of scientific methods. Finally, this examination of lay-professional disputes and collaborations may lead to scientific and technological innovation.
National Science Foundation