Summer Reading for Science & Human Health

By Rebecca Rehr, Public Policy & Advocacy Manager

During the dog days of Summer we spend a great deal of time on our reading research and lists and reports to connect health and science for human health. Our summer work often informs our work and priorities for legislative session.

Our year consists of community outreach and coalition work  legislative session, recovery, research, coalition building, legislative prep, and back to session. The research portion of the year is critical to developing thought leadership in environmental health.

We spend the summer reading and researching emerging and existing environmental health threats so we can be better informed advocates during the legislative session.  The luxury of the summer is that we have time to think deeply.  When reading articles, we ruminate on the methodology, consider policy implications, and consult with allies and peers about key findings.  

Our reading includes reporting from other advocacy organizations’ publications like the American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2017, Rachel Carson Council’s Fowl Matters, and Black Women for Wellness’ Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story, as well as peer reviewed journal articles like Bonds and Martin’s “Treating People Like Pollution: Homelessness and Environmental Injustice,” Kaufman et al’s “A Citizen Science and Government Collaboration: Developing Tools to Facilitate Community Air Monitoring,” and Payne-Sturges et al’s “Engaging Communities in Research on Cumulative Risk and Social Stress-Environment Interactions: Lessons Learned from EPA’s STAR Program” among others. These pieces spur intellectual debate among staff and partners and can directly inform our policy positions.  

While staying abreast of the new literature, we are also reconnecting with classic and groundbreaking intellectual pieces that are more relevant than ever.  In our work on cumulative impacts, we’re revisiting Kimberle Crenshaw’s “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics which informed our ED’s blog post on why you should care about intersectionality.

Intersectionality can help us understand the ways social determinants of health impact our ability to respond to environmental threats, and in the wake of events in Charlottesville provide words of wisdom and introspection for actions we can take as environmentalists and public health professionals to combat racism and health inequities. 

As an organization that strives to be an honest broker of the most up to date scientific information, this summer research period is critical to our mission, and as wonks, it’s critical to our personal and professional growth. Grab an article and cozy up with your favorite summer spritzer!  We’re happy to have brought the summer reading list to our work and we hope you’re also finding ways to enrich your mind this summer, too.

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