Using University-Community Partnerships to Stem Environmental Inequities and Injustice

Town-gown relationships, also known as collaborations between the university and the community, have continued to receive acknowledgement of its ability to enhance the benefits to the community, especially between white universities and African American communities (Bombyk, Ohren, & Shue, 2003; Rowson, Broome, & Jones, 2010). Universities interact with the community to improve the relationship by realizing that the community knows what its problems are but lack resources to properly address those needs The university, in turn, can match the resources to fit the communities’ needs along with guiding the community in the process of being empowered with the knowledge and proper tools to address future needs (Young, 1995; Onyx, 2008).

To further solidify the need for universities to become involved in community engagement, Isaac indicates (2003, pp. 8), “There is a strong need for citizen involvement concerning priorities, problems, and political solutions because the community knows what the problems are; however, the citizens may not know the resources available to solve them.” The Council for International Development (2003) defined advocacy planning theory as a “People-centered advocacy that involves the affected communities themselves in advocating for change as participants in the process, not as objects of the process” (Isaac, 2003, pp. 8).

The purpose of this paper, therefore, is to discuss the roots of the movement by reviewing the following: (1) theoretical perspective of community engagement, (2) the environmental justice movement and (3) the challenges of the environmental justice movement that can be addressed through effective collaborations between universities and the communities they serve.

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(Author: Ralph Gallo, Consuela Amos

Published by Macrothink Institute)