C-PREE Bradford Seminar: Taking Science to the Streets: Participatory Research Approaches to Improve Environment, Health, and Quality of Life in Urban Areas

Environmental justice communities, those disproportionately affected by pollutants, are simultaneously exposed to multiple environmental stressors and also experience social and cultural factors that may heighten their health risks in comparison to other communities. Availability of fine-grained, community-level data is limited to support said communities’ appeals for public health practice, planning, and policy changes.

This presentation will describe local community-driven research, advocacy, and public health practice in an environmentally degraded urban community, Northwest Atlanta’s Proctor Creek Watershed, in which community residents (watershed researchers), academics, and non-profit organizations leverage local, community knowledge; community science methods; and participatory approaches to identify, document, and analyze the impacts of local environmental hazards and quality of life stressors. This highly collaborative and interdisciplinary work has helped to improve municipal services and community-municipality collaboration while also demonstrating that the democratization of science can help fill critical data gaps about local conditions and pollution sources, advance environmental justice, and impact changes in the implementation of urban policies and practice that influence community health.

Brief bio:
Dr. Na’Taki Osborne Jelks is an Assistant Professor in the Environmental and Health Sciences Program at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA.  Dr. Jelks investigates urban environmental health disparities; the role that place, race, and social factors play in influencing health; cumulative environmental risks and health; the impact of climate change on vulnerable populations, and the connection between urban watersheds, pollution, the built environment, and health.  She also develops, implements, and evaluates community-based initiatives that set conditions to enable low-income and communities of color to empower themselves to reduce exposure to environmental health hazards and improve health and quality of life. Jelks is particularly interested in approaches that engage environmentally overburdened communities in monitoring local environmental conditions, generating actionable data for community change, and developing effective community-based interventions that revitalize toxic, degraded spaces into healthy places.


The David Bradford Energy and Environmental Policy Seminar Series is coordinated by the Center for Policy Research on Energy and the Environment (C-PREE), and co-sponsored by the High Meadows Environmental Institute (HMEI). 

This in-person event is open to the Princeton University community. Members of the public may watch the seminar over livestream at http://mediacentrallive.princeton.edu/