2023 ERC Regional Research Symposium

Education and Research Center (ERC) Regional Research Symposium

Friday April 14th, 2023

The 2023 Regional Education Research Center (ERC) Symposium, was held on Friday April, 14th at the University of Michigan Union. The 2023 theme “Meeting Challenges in Occupational and Environmental Justice” with guest speakers from EPA, Blue Green Alliance, Green Door Initiative, Boston University, and the Erb Family Foundation. Regional ERC updates on EJ work being done in each state, and afternoon ignite style collaborative workshop and group presentations. This event brought interdisciplinary and intercollegiate NIOSH trainees and faculty together for this yearly scheduled research symposium and poster session from the Education and Research Centers from the University of Cincinnati, University of Illinois Chicago and the University of Michigan.
Program Objectives
• Describe the prevalence and impacts of occupational and environmental injustices
• Recognize that environmental injustices are often dwarfed by occupational injustices, and that reducing only
environmental injustices may not significantly improve overall justice
• Evaluate needs and opportunities for OSH and EHS education and training on occupational injustices
• Discuss research and policy initiatives that could help integrate occupational risk reduction into EJ



Invited Speakers: Reducing Occupational Injustices as we Reduce Environmental Ones

Matthew Tejada – Director, EPA Office of Environmental Justice

El’Gin Avila – Director of OEH and Equity, BlueGreen Alliance

Donele Wilkins – CEO Green door Initiative

Jon Levy – Professor and Chair of EHS, Boston University

Neil Hawkins– President, Erb Family Foundation

Invited Speakers: Occupational and Environmental Justice work across our ERCs

Kermit Davis, PhD, CPE– Professor of EOHS, University of Cincinnati ERC

Susan Buchanan– Clinical Assoc Professor of EOHS, University of Illinois-Chicago ERC

Adam Finkel– Clinical Professor of EHS, University of Michigan ERC

PM Workshop: Video

Interdisciplinary group discussion to address symposium objectives:
”Ignite”- Style Presentations


Description of the workshop: The goal of this workshop was to provide an educational and interesting interactive experience to all symposium participants, and to further the discussion on concepts related to occupational and environmental justice. Participants had opportunities to interact in small working groups that were pre-assigned to maximize cross-ERC interactions as well as interdisciplinary perspectives. Working groups discussed their assigned topics, during which they created a short (5-minute, ~5 slides) “Ignite”-style talk that 1-2 members from each group presented to all participants.

Definitions to consider:
Environmental Justice (EJ): The US Environmental Protection Agency has a working definition of EJ: “Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”

Occupational Justice (OJ): A widely-accepted definition of OJ has not been offered in the national discussion of occupational health and safety, and is badly needed. A central question is whether these two scopes of justice are separate (i.e., competing for fixed resources) or complementary.

Workshop groups and topics: Each symposium participant was be pre-assigned to one of eight groups, each of which will have a different focus.

Six of the groups focused on OJ in specific industry sectors: (1) Construction (e.g., residential, commercial, civil, etc.) (2) Informal/gig economy or freelance work (e.g., day labor, rideshare drivers, food delivery, etc.) (3) Health care workers (e.g., physicians, nurses, technicians, home health care, etc.) (4) Agriculture (e.g., farming, forestry, fishing, and hunting) (5) Manufacturing (e.g., textiles, metal, petroleum, electronics, etc.) (6) Service (e.g., restaurants, leisure and hospitality, retail, transportation, etc.)

The remaining two groups focused on education-related OJ issues: (7) training future OJ leaders (8) Integrating EJ and OJ in academia and policy



For information about this Event Contact:

Kaley James, M.Ed, CHES
Administrative Program Coordinator
University of Michigan School of Public Health (M6112 SPHII)
Phone: 734-936-0749