The Community Engagement Core will partner with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension in the Michigan Tri-Cities region (Saginaw, Midland, and Bay City) to strengthen social networks, enhance community knowledge about the state-of-the-science including knowledge about health risks associated with exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds, and facilitate decision-making around reducing environmental health risks. We propose identifying key actors and stakeholders in the area, then holding a series of workshops between these key actors and MSU SRP researchers. The workshops have three main objectives: 1) To bring diverse stakeholders together in a face-to-face, interactive setting in order to strengthen relationships and community capacity to address local environmental health problems;2) to provide education about the scientific method, and how dioxin and dioxin-like compounds interact in the body and in the environment;and 3) to increase MSU SRP researchers'understanding of community questions and concerns about health risks associated with dioxin exposure and the forces beyond science that shape public policy. Each annual series of workshops will cumulate in a white paper or MSU Extension factsheet identifying common questions and summarizing concerns and possible solutions. The white papers and/or factsheets will be published online via the MSU SPR website and the MSU Extension website. Printed versions will be made available in district libraries, county public health offices, and MSU Extension offices. Summaries of these papers also will be available through a mobile phone "app" developed by the MSU SRP RTC. Long-term outcomes of these workshops may include community identification of research strategies for addressing dioxins at the whole system, community, and human health levels, as well as agreement on cleanup criteria.
MSU Extension will host and facilitate community dialogue to establish an understanding of the specific needs of the public concerning dioxin contamination within their community. Using online and face-to-face forums, MSU Extension community development educators will enhance the lay public's knowledge concerning the current state-of-the-science on dioxin-related health effects and also data gaps. This two-way communication will educate the community and MSU investigators enabling informed decision-making by all.
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