'Voices Unbound' Will Amplify Those Underrepresented in Environmental Policy

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Using a mix of new and old technologies, including postcards and podcasts, researchers will seek input on environmental issues such as climate change and pollution.

An interdisciplinary team of UW Tacoma researchers will combine methods new and old to give voice to the perspectives of groups who are often the most affected by environmental issues, but whose views are frequently overlooked by policymakers.

The project, called “Voices Unbound: Amplifying perspectives of disenfranchised communities to provoke environmental change,” is one of five to receive funding in the first-ever round of innovation grants from EarthLab, a research institute established at UW in 2017 to develop practical solutions for large-scale environmental challenges. The team will receive $49,987 to fund its work.

Led by Christopher Schell, assistant professor of urban ecology, and Robin Evans-Agnew, associate professor of nursing and healthcare leadership, the team will ask people throughout Pierce County to document environmental challenges directly affecting them through a series of “enviro-postcards.” The post-card input will be supplemented with in-person science booths and a podcast series. Results will be presented back to the community via an eco-art gallery open to the public that will showcase community perspectives on environmental issues such as pollution and climate change.

The research team will also include Joel Baker, professor and Port of Tacoma Chair in environmental science, Tom Koontz, professor of environmental policy; and Joyce Dinglasan-Panlilio, associate professor of environmental science.

Other projects funded by EarthLab innovation grants will look at climate-driven diseases in Washington such as West Nile virus; develop safe-chemical campaigns for food truck owners, operators and workers; and create interactive data-visualization tools to help Washington coastal communities come to grips with predicted sea-level rise.

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / April 4, 2019
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu