GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 83-3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


FORTNER, Sarah, Science Education Resource Center, Carleton College, One North College St., Northfield, MN 55057, BROWN, Ken, Department of Geosciences, DePauw University, 2 E Hanna St, Greencastle, IN 46135, EBANKS, Sue C., Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Savannah State University, Savannah, GA 31404, FADEM, Cynthia, Earlham CollegeDepartment of Geology, 801 National Rd W, Richmond, IN 47374-4021, LATIMER, Jennifer, Department of Earth and Environmental Systems, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809 and TRIERWEILER, Annette M., Environmental Science, Baldwin Wallace University, Berea, OH 44017

Advancing earth and environmental justice calls for greater collaboration between scientists (i.e. researchers and educators) and frontline communities. Building and supporting partnerships that cause no harm and that genuinely advance community-desired change means facing the many structural and cultural barriers between academia, our discipline, and communities. In addition to the need for structural change to support work in and with communities, there is a need for researchers and educators to collaborate in ways that fit their existing cultures, structures, and motivations. At the center of this work is developing entry points into equitable, transparent partnerships for all stakeholders. There is much to learn from efforts in the Geoscience Education Community that have expanded effective teaching practice by using a systems design to support feedback between learning in small teams, broader community-building, and empowerment of change leaders who then expand their curricula and research programs in ways that advance social justice. A core unit of this work was small teams that shared a passion and goal for change and committed to learning from each other to do better work, or a Community of Practice (CoP).

Drawing from geoscience education and collective action models, the Metal Redlining Network (MRN) formed a CoP that united around a shared goal of advancing environmental justice through education, research, and community engagement. The MRN meets quarterly to advance a shared research goal and discuss education and partnering strategies they’re using to advance environmental justice. They discuss challenges they’ve faced that inform the work of other community members. Conversations in the first year of the MRN focused on advancing research, teaching about structural racism, building trust, and navigating privacy issues associated with public health. This approach supported improved research, education, and community work, holding promise for reducing barriers to building trust in and with communities. The MRN CoP supports learning and skill-building in ways that reduce harmful mistakes engaging students and community. It also points to the value of developing models for working in and with communities that fit existing faculty work, at least until structural challenges to community engagement in Higher Ed have been rectified. There are many opportunities to design research and education collaborations toward equitable solutions with a transparent, incremental learning and trust-building approach.