Community Outreach & Engagement Cores
Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers
Liam R. O'Fallon, M.A.
As part of the EHS Core Center Program the NIEHS has fostered community-university partnerships through the integrated Community Outreach & Engagement Cores (COEC). Each EHS Core Center has the option to establish a Community Outreach and Engagement Core (COEC) to build and sustain a bi-directional bridge between the EHS Core Center and its defined community. COECs communicate environmental health research findings and concepts to their partners and convey the voice of the community to researchers within the Core Center. In so doing, COEC increases community awareness of environmental health and provides researchers with the understanding of what environmental health issues are of importance or concern to the community.
The COECs are at the forefront of developing communication approaches between researchers and community groups, policy makers, and healthcare professionals. Activities include creation of interactive websites, educational videos, and public service announcements among a variety of print materials. COECs implement innovative and culturally appropriate outreach efforts, including community theater productions, environmental health outreach at local community markets, and model healthy homes. Educational outreach through schools has been a primary approach for many COECs. They have developed and implemented innovative curricular materials that are being used in classrooms across the United States. Many of these materials are available on the NIEHS Health and Education page. Another major strength of COECs is their ability to bring people together to address common environmental health issues. Several COECs from across the country mobilized rapidly in response to hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike that affected much of the Gulf Coast region.
COEC Goals and Expected Outcomes
The goals of the Community Outreach and Engagement Cores are to:
- Develop partnerships with stakeholders to translate and disseminate EHS Core Center science.
- Work with community-based organizations, disease advocacy groups and other local, state, or regional partners to enhance the dialogue on environmental health issues in their regions.
- Develop and implement appropriate outreach and educational programs to increase awareness and understanding of environmental health research being conducted at the EHS Core Centers.
- Evaluate outreach models, disseminate results at local and national levels, and promote models for national implementation.
COEC Target Audiences
- Public Health and/or Health Care Professionals
Those EHS Core Centers that support a COEC are listed below with links to their COEC web pages. From their COEC pages you can learn more about the focus of their work and their on-going projects.