Promoting Environmental Justice through University-Community Research Collaborations: The Case Study of Farm Worker Communities in Oxnard, California

By Haco Hoang, Grady Hanrahan and Kaitlyn Noli.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The focus of this study is to demonstrate how university-community research collaborations can lead to enhancement of civic discourse and action on health issues in environmental justice communities. We developed a seasonal water, soil and urine sampling/monitoring approach to assess pesticide risk and exposure in agricultural communities, thereby establishing an empirical baseline to examine potential health effects. Data from community surveys and content analysis of Spanish radio facilitated the identification of resources, structures and processes that could inform and engage the public. Monitoring results showed that pesticide exposure is related to direct contact in agricultural fields or secondary exposure by family members residing in the same household, depending on the amount of accumulation on clothes and skin. Findings also revealed the importance of enhancing the civic capacity of low-income and minority populations to promote healthy, sustainable communities. How can affected stakeholders build the capacity to promote environmental justice in their communities?

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Civic Engagement, Low-income Populations, Minorities

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.133-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 388.656KB).

Dr. Haco Hoang

Associate Professor of Political Science, Department of Political Science, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Dr. Haco Hoang has an extensive background as a practitioner and scholar of public policy, particularly in the areas of civic engagement, youth environmental activism, and community development. She has served as a policy consultant for public officials and agencies in Los Angeles, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. She has worked on several projects related to civic engagement and community development. In collaboration with the Community Development Department in Los Angeles, she helped to design and implement capacity-building workshops for community-based organizations to improve their delivery of human and social services. She also worked with neighborhood councils in Los Angeles to improve their capacity to affect public policy and influence local decision-making through civic education and training programs. Most of Dr. Hoang’s policy work has targeted underserved and underrepresented areas in Los Angeles including minority, immigrant and low-income communities. She has also worked with numerous environmental organizations that target youth environmentalism including TreePeople and Pacoima Beautiful. For three years, Dr. Hoang served as the youth and education policy consultant for Million Trees LA where she was responsible for developing policies and programs that fostered youth environmentalism and civic engagement, particularly in low-income areas.

Dr. Grady Hanrahan

John Stauffer Professor of Analystical Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA

Dr. Hanrahan has considerable experience in environmental sampling and analysis, particularly in areas of low-income populations, including East Los Angeles and the Oxnard region of Ventura County. He was a major participant in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant award studying the correlation between the chemical composition of air pollutants in the East Los Angeles region and the potential impact of long-term exposure to these chemicals on human health. He was instrumental in expanding upon established environmental monitoring techniques that are used universally to monitor pollution. Because these techniques are now widely used, they are easily incorporated into large-scale environmental monitoring studies designed to investigate the correlation between the exposure of populations to chemical pollutants and human health. One of his most important contributions to the NIH project was the generation of a database that included chemical pollutants and epidemiological data sorted by zip codes that reflected health disparities of residences in economically disadvantaged areas compared to more affluent neighborhoods.

Kaitlyn Noli

Graduate Student, Department of Global and International Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara, Goleta, CA, USA

Kaitlyn Noli is a graduate student working on her Master’s degree in Global and International Studies. She serves as a researcher on a project funded by a grant from the California Wellness Foundation titled "Integrating Science into Civic Engagement: Promoting Environmental Justice in Oxnard, California."