CORE 3: Community Engagement Core


The Community Engagement Core (CEC) advances social science of environmental health and justice through a deliberative and participatory process of research, education, and advocacy in the state of Rhode Island. Combining academic and community-based approaches builds mutual trust and promotes understanding of complex socio-environmental problems to reduce environmental exposures, improve public health and inform public health and environmental policy. CEC compliments the SRP Training Core and Research Translation Core by working on multiple levels with a variety of constituencies, including community-based organizations, tribal communities, and local, state and federal government agencies, as well as with students and faculty at Brown and other universities.

Specific Aims

  • To work with communities to design and conduct social research to better understand and respond to pressing environmental health and environmental justice concerns. 
  • To build and deepen formal and informal partnerships with community organizations and state agencies to improve and advance environmental health education, legislation, regulation, and cleanup.
  • To develop innovative strategies for environmental health and environmental justice education among academic, state and community partners.
  • To communicate our work and its impacts to the broader public in Rhode Island and beyond.

Contact Information

Core Leader: Scott Frickel, Ph.D.
[email protected]



Core Co-leader:  Elizabeth Hoover, Ph.D.
[email protected]



Core Co-Leader: Marcella Thompson, Ph.D.
[email protected]



State Agency Liaison: Summer Gonsalves
[email protected] 

Community Partners

Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI)
The Community Engagement Core helped in the formation of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island (EJLRI) to create a network of community-based organizations that addresses issues related to Superfund brownfields clean up, remediation, and redevelopment, and to help this network secure resources, training and scientific expertise to address community concerns about toxics. Two short videos highlight their important work:

  • Vehicle of Change describes how a young organizer from the EJLRI finds an innovative way to get around and so much more.
  • Toxic Schools provides an overview of Rhode Island’s industrial past and toxic legacy. In low income neighborhoods many public schools are being built on toxic sites creating a variety of health issues for local children. These issues gave rise to the EJLRI.

Narragansett Indian Tribe
The Narragansett Indian Tribe is the only federally recognized tribe in Rhode Island. As a sovereign nation, the Narragansett Tribe has its own governing body comprised of Chief Sachem, Medicine Man, Tribal Secretary, Tribal Treasurer, a nine-member Council, and a Tribal Elders’ Council. In 2007, there were approximately 2,600 Tribal members. The Tribal government has administrative and department offices, a health center, daycare and senior centers, and the Four Winds community building. The Narragansett Indian Health Center provides a holistic approach to address the health needs of its Tribal members. The Department of Community Planning and Natural Resources promotes sustainable community development and protects the health and welfare of the Tribal culture, community members and the natural environment.

Urban Pond Procession (UPP)
Urban Pond Procession (UPP) is a network of Rhode Island artists who promote stewardship of the Mashapaug Pond through arts and education. The UPP facilitates creative arts workshops for youth in schools and in the community to raise environmental awareness, promote environmental health, and engage community members to participate and advocate for the cleanup of Mashapaug Pond, adjacent to the Gorham/Textron Brownfield site, and other Pawtuxet River watershed ponds.

Woonsaquatucket River Watershed Council (WRWC)
One of the nation's fourteen federally-designated American Heritage Rivers, the Woonasquatucket River's watershed comprises five towns (including Providence), and includes a Superfund site and several Brownfields. Among its many projects, the WRWC is working with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and others on remediation to address dioxin contamination at the Centredale Manor area. WRWC also works on maintaining and promoting land preservation along the watershed, and in developing environmental materials for students. The Brown SBRP Community Outreach team has researched cleanup methods implemented at forty other similar Superfund sites, and has interviewed community organizations near those sites to learn about their satisfaction with the cleanup alternatives chosen. We are also helping the Watershed Council identify other stakeholders along the river, so that they may network and make a coordinated demand for cleanup to the most stringent standards possible.

Important Links
Comprehensive list of organizations specializing in issues related to human and environmental health and environmental justice.