Community Connections: Bringing Together Scientists and Local Voices

Date: Sat, 09/26/2015
Location: Houston Community College District Building, Conference Center Room, 3100 Main, Houston, TX 77002

Time: 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm.

Houston Community College District Building, Conference Center Room, 3100 Main, Houston, TX 77002 | Saturday, September 26, 2015

Whether it’s protection from chemical hazards, resilience to climate change impacts, or a food system that is accessible and affordable, communities across the country are working to improve health and safety. We can all benefit when all members of the community—scientists, policymakers, and residents alike—have access to the best available science and can break down barriers to shape decisions.

Our Lewis M. Branscomb Forum, “Community Connections,” will explore how to overcome barriers to collaboration and make scientist engagement more effective. Join to learn about new ways for scientists, leaders, and citizens to work together, and leave with strategies and tangible advice to develop (or improve) connections between scientists and communities.

The town hall in Houston, TX in September will include a diverse audience of community groups, science organizations, technical specialists, citizens, and elected officials. Participants will learn and share stories from their own experiences of connecting science and community around a range of issues. The first half of the event will be a broader look at what it means to connect communities and science. The second part will focus on collaborations among Houston’s community and science experts to address local issues facing Houston. The event will be webcast, so everyone will be able to listen to the panel discussions and participate online.

Register to attend

Through this forum, scientists will become better equipped to share technical expertise with the public, and will learn about new opportunities, resources, and supportive networks to get involved. Advocates and community leaders will learn about where to access scientific expertise and information on issues you care about, ways to get that information into the hands of policymakers, and how to share your concerns and questions with researchers so their science can be most useful to you.

Join us for this unique opportunity to:

  • Get practical advice and useful resources for effective, mutually beneficial scientist/community collaborations through highlighting cutting edge projects happening all over the country
  • Explore how to increase scientist engagement in a way that improves outcomes for communities who seek scientific support
  • Access a toolkit for scientists and communities to help them think through and develop engagement plans
  • Learn about opportunities where you can join, create, or improve collaborations

Fill out our RSVP form to join us in person or by webcast at the September 26 town hall event in Houston.

Register for the forum >


Houston Community College Conference Center, Houston, TX
3100 Main Street, Suite 2B00

(Note: program information is preliminary. Check back for updates over the coming weeks.)

All times CDT

1:00-2:30 Town Hall Part One: National Discussion

Welcome by Kathleen Rest, executive director, Union of Concerned Scientists

Video remarks from U.S. Representative Raúl Grijalva

Panel Discussion: What Makes a Beneficial Scientist-Community Collaboration? Learning from Successes, Trends, and Stories

Get personal insight from panelists’ experiences with scientist-community partnerships to learn concrete ideas about how you can take steps towards mutually beneficial and effective collaboration. From building trust to collaborative leadership to shared expectations, panelists will share their advice for what makes successful collaborations and practical resources to help you explore this in your community.

Moderator: Jalonne White-Newsome, environmental justice federal policy analyst at WE ACT for Environmental Justice
Michael Burns, senior advisor for EPA Region 4 and manager of the College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP)
Irma Muñoz, president and founder of Mujeres de la Tierra
Raj Pandya, director of AGU Thriving Earth Exchange
Valentine Cadieux, director of Environmental Studies and Sustainability of Hamline University

Open Discussion

2:30-3:00 BREAK (Snacks and networking for in-person attendees)

3:00-4:45 Town Hall Part Two: Houston Discussion

Welcome by Neal Lane, senior fellow in science and technology policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute, former Science Advisory to President Clinton

The history of Houston’s science-community engagement for environmental justice, fromDr. Robert Bullard, Dean of the School of Public Affairs at Texas Southern University and often described as the father of environmental justice

Panel Discussion: Community-Scientist Collaboration in Houston

Join local leaders to explore exactly why and how Houston can improve scientist-community collaboration moving forward. This candid conversation will address both the unique challenges and the opportunities in collaboration to achieve better health, safety, and environmental outcomes that community groups, policy makers, or scientists may not be able to reach on their own. For example, panelists will offer suggestions for ways scientists can ensure their research is accessible and useful to community groups and decision makers, as well as ways community members can leverage relevant research and find appropriate technical specialists for potential collaboration.

Moderator: Brenda Reyes, bureau chief of the community & children environmental health at Houston Department of Health and Human Services
Winifred Hamilton,
associate professor of medicine and neurosurgery at the Baylor College of Medicine
Hilton Kelley
, founder and CEO, Community In-power & Development Association Inc. (CIDA)
Juan Parras, cofounder of Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS)
Adrian Shelley, executive director of Air Alliance Houston

Open Discussion

Wrap up and opportunities ahead: Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS

4:45-6:00 Reception in atrium of the HCC for all attendees to connect over hors d’oeuvres