The purpose of this engaged public sociology study was to use social science to bring resident stakeholders into the process of governing pollution production in a rural community. The community has cancer clusters. Residents have concerns about direct exposure to pollution production in their neighborhood by a steel recycling plant that has been cited numerous times for environmental violations. The facility has been under voluntary remediation since 2009, but neighborhood residents were marginalized from the governance process. This case study details how social science was used to bring neighborhood residents’ concerns about direct exposure to toxic air pollution into remediation governance. A curricula-as-research model was developed to provide an engagement framework that guided the case study as it progressed through a series of six stages over five years. The Principle Investigator maintained this collaboration by integrating the project into courses, securing small grants, developing an affordable air pollution monitoring method, and convening multiple community meetings. The air monitoring results are analyzed and discussed. Finally, the impact of the case study on the company, the state environmental management agency, local government, the nonprofit partner, and residents’ sense of human agency is evaluated.
Engaged research, public sociology, public health, environmental regulation, stakeholder governance, governance
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