Environmental justice research and action: a case study in political economy and community-academic collaboration.Int Q Community Health Educ. 2006-2007; 26(3):213-31.IQ
Community-university partnerships increasingly are being created to study and address environmental injustices. This article describes a case study of one such effort and its contributions to a decade-long community struggle to curb the growth of industrial hog operations and their adverse health effects in the United States' rural south. Worldwide transformation of livestock production from family farms to large-scale industrial agricultural complexes has resulted in the degradation of local environments, with negative impacts on public health. In the rural south, the concentration of industrial livestock operations has been most pronounced in low income African-American communities. Using political economy and community-based participatory research (CBPR) as a conceptual framework, this article explores the partnership between a strong community-based organization, Concerned Citizens of Tillery, and researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, School of Public Health to study and address this problem. The political, economic, and historical context of the partnership is examined, as are the challenges faced, and the partnership's contributions to maintaining grassroots community organizing and activism and affecting local policy change. Implications for other CBPR partnerships are discussed.