The primary mission of MIT's COEC program is to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of the environment on health. Awareness is the first step toward change, and therefore through educational outreach, we aim to empower citizens to prevent environmentally induced diseases by providing them with knowledge to help inform wise choices. While COEC activities reach people of all ages, it is the philosophy of this COEC to focus upon youth, a critical at-risk portion of our community who can benefit tremendously from knowledge that will help them make better life choices. Furthermore, understanding environmental health and understanding the fundamentals of life sciences go hand-in-hand, thus providing the dual benefit of informed decision-making, and inspiration in science. Therefore, MIT COEC proposes to continue with its emphasis on youth, while at the same time extending programmatic opportunities to teachers and health care professionals, who are best poised to disseminate valuable environmental health information to the community. This COEC group continues to be innovative both in terms of the conceptual materials covered, but also in terms of the pedagogical tools. Through the development of novel hands-on programs, hundreds of students have become Involved in the learning process, and thus receptive to important concepts about the environment and its impact on their health. In addition, this past cycle, COEC reached out not only to students, but also to thousands of community members of all ages, through a variety of media, including participatory workshops, museum exhibitions, training programs, laboratory experiments, and professional videos. In close alignment with the core interests of the Center, and under strong leadership to streamline the program and optimize its direction, COEC has successfully improved the public understanding of the impact of the environment on health, by connecting the impact of exposures to basic cellular processes.
The specific aims for this next funding period are thus focused on activities that will continue to teach fundamental concepts in environmental health to community members of all ages, with emphasis on to students, teachers, health care professionals.
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