How would you define the Big Idea?
Environmental Justice is concerned with making sure that (A) no community takes on an unfair share of environmental burdens and (B) environmental benefits are shared in an equitable way regardless of race, class, gender, or orientation. Citizen Science is a fast-growing field that can contribute to EJ work. Citizen Science involves scientific investigations that are conducted by volunteers of all ages with support and advisement from professional scientists and engineers. It allows ordinary citizens an opportunity to improve their understanding of the environment and potentially promote Environmental Justice. For example, if a group of community members work to develop a Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP) before undertaking their scientific investigation, the data collected during the scientific investigation can potentially be used to make state and federal agencies aware of environmental burdens that are disproportionally affecting low-income communities and communities of color. A QAPP states the objectives and procedures to be followed for a project that uses or collects environmental information.
How is this big idea applied to your work?
As part of my role as Assistant Director at the Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, I advise faculty, staff, and students interested in Citizen Science projects. In addition, I plan to coordinate training programs related to QAPP development and Citizen Science for our neighboring communities. By promoting Environmental Justice through Citizen Science, the Georgia Tech community can empower our neighbors to improve their quality of life while helping to ensure that no community takes on an unfair share of environmental burdens.