IfSC Efforts Presented at NCSE Conference

Date: 2/2/2018

Author: Garett Sansom, Associate Director

The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) conference is an internationally attended occasion that aims to improve the scientific basis for environmental decision-making. This years event was held on January 23-25, 2018, in Washington, DC. The theme was Building Resilience in a Changing World. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, the Ambassador of France Mr. Araud, and Dr. Geralde Galloway the Glenn Martin Institute Professor of Engineering of the University of Maryland. The institute was fortunate to have a well-receive and attended panel.

Many current and former Institute for Sustainable Communities (IfSC) members comprised the panel entitled “Participatory Infrastructure Assessment Technique: Towards Equitable, Sustainable, and Resilient Communities.” The discussion included: Dr. Marccus Hendricks, former doctoral student at the IfSC and current Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland, along with IfSC discovery lead Dr. Galen Newman, IfSC Engagement lead Dr. John Cooper Jr, IfSC fellow Dr. Shannon Van Zandt, and Yvette Arellano a member of our community partner the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services.

There was a lively discussion that centered on the ways in which participatory infrastructure assessment techniques can be used by local residents to evaluate neighborhood stormwater drainage. This approach involves the formal training of students, citizens, and fellow community members in scientifically determining the quality and condition of neighborhood features to inform maintenance and rehabilitation. It also involves utilizing local knowledge to inform future capital planning. This approach has already been pioneered by Drs. Gharaibeh and Hendricks in a series of pilot studies in Houston neighborhoods. The benefits of IfSC community engagement, and citizen science, efforts on community resilience are described in an upcoming publication.[1]

The NCSE specializes in programs that foster collaboration between diverse institutions and individuals that strive to create and use environmental knowledge, including research, education, and environmental. This panel certainly fulfills that criteria. We wanted to thank Dr. Hendricks for organizing a successful panel and to all of NCSE for the opportunity to discuss our work at your conference.

Dr. Marccus Hendricks with Furr High School students following a day of participatory infrastructure assessment.

[1] Meyer, Michelle A., Marccus Hendricks, Galen Newman, Jaimie Masterson, John T. Cooper, Jr., Garett Sansom, Jennifer Horney, Phil Berke, Shannon Van Zandt, and Tiffany Cousins. “Participatory Action Research: Tools for Disaster Resilience Education.” International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment.