Community Engagement Core

What do we do?

The Community Engagement Core works with communities across North Carolina affected by environmental contaminants. Communities can contact us with short-term requests for information related to environmental contamination or with proposals for longer term engagement through participatory research projects and/or education and outreach activities. By “community engagement,” we mean working in an ongoing way with a community, listening closely to their needs and learning from their experiences.

How do we do it?

Two of our current projects include:

1) Partnering with Community Gardeners to Reduce Exposure to Soil Contaminants

In 2016, the RTC initiated a community-based participatory research project to understand and reduce exposures to soil contaminants, including pesticides, in garden soils. We are partnering with North Carolina Community Garden Partners, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the North Carolina Cooperative Extension, among others. In addition to creating an exposure map tool for gardeners, the project involves qualitative research through site visits, interviews, and focus groups that will eventually inform a social marketing campaign to positively influence gardener behavior and management choices that reduce contaminant exposure.

2) Partnership on an EPA Environmental Justice Grant to Explore Exposures Due to Subsistence Fish Consumption in Southeastern North Carolina

The Duke Superfund Center’s CEC is an academic partner and project coordinator for an EPA Environmental Justice grant awarded to the Cape Fear River Watch in Wilmington, North Carolina, to explore subsistence fish consumption in three neighborhoods in the Cape Fear River Basin. Other partners in the project include the Wake Forest School of Medicine and the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic.

In addition to community gardens and fish consumption, we are interested in hearing from communities about:

  • Opportunities to explore and analyze pathways to exposure near former industrial sites in collaboration with affected communities
  • Any other topics of concern to communities who want to learn more about environmental contamination

Who are we?

Elizabeth Shapiro-Garza, Ph.D., Director, Community Engagement Core
Bryan Luukinen, Senior Program Coordinator, Research Translation Core and Community Engagement Core
Catherine Kastleman, Program Coordinator, Community Engagement Core and Research Translation Core

For more information about our community engagement efforts, contact