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This is how we, SciCAN, define and use the following terms. There are alternatives to these definitions and uses, all having their own value and importance. We do not claim sole authority or use of these terms, rather we aim to be explicit in how we utilize language.

Community Lived Expertise & Experience:

the place-based observational and experiential knowledge and understanding that members of the community hold about the causes, conditions, implications, and solutions surrounding their community

Issue-Area Expertise:

knowledge that comes from training in an academic and/or institutional setting

Issue-Area Experts:

a person trained in an academic and/or institutional setting on a particular subject

Environmental Health:

environmental health centers on the relationships between people and their environment. It includes the physical, chemical, and biological factors external to a person, and how we interact with those external factors. This includes, sustainable availability of clean air, stable climate, arable land, clean and adequate amounts of fresh water, sanitation, and hygiene, safe waste management, use of chemicals, and workplaces, protection from radiation, sustainable and sufficient agricultural practices, health-supportive cities and built environments, and a preserved nature are all prerequisites for good health. In this trans-disciplinary field, we tend to focus on the modifiable variables, especially the human contributions to improving or worsening human health by way of the environments in which we live. Note: There are several definitions for environmental health; we have chosen a broader definition (utilizing language from several institutions), acknowledging that everything is interconnected, and when it comes to environment and health – those connections are foundational.

Impacted / Overburdened Communities:

communities that are on the frontlines and fencelines, bearing the brunt of the environmental health hazards from long standing injustice and inequitable distribution of resources; as a result of environmental racism, capitalism, and extractive economies and processes including (but not limited to) industrial pollution, legacy contamination, climate change, energy poverty, and cumulative impacts and exposure.

Support vs Solidarity:

support can be something as simple as agreeing with an issue/cause and can also involve bringing some form of resources to bear for that cause. Solidarity involves the conceding and challenging of power in service of a cause - this is action oriented.


We are guided and centered in the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing, the Principles of Environmental Justice, and the Bali Climate Justice Principles (see here for those documents), and we aim to operationalize them in all of our efforts.

Below are some of the ways we do this:

Grassroots are in all conversations that shape the work, unless they have otherwise stated or delegated authority

The people who are from and living in the communities experiencing environmental health inequities must be defining the problems and shaping the solutions.

Lived experience is expertise

Community members know their environments – the challenges, strengths, and types of solutions that work best for them. Lived experience comes from collecting observations and putting them in context just like other ways of knowing. It is a validated way of knowledge acquisition, and provides critical data that cannot be ignored. It is an immensely powerful source of knowledge and the search for solutions to pressing problems alongside scientific research, and must be recognized as such. Therefore, lived experience shapes analysis of impacts and effects. Lived experience is present in all of our science, analysis, research, publications, media.

Research to Action

Impacted communities deserve issue area experts that support their efforts for change, we do not need more studies that sit in an academic publication (often behind a paywall), or policies that benefit the already privileged few. The work we and our partners do is with purpose – to support EJ campaigns led by those most impacted.


Our collective movement strength comes from the depth of our relationships with each other; trust is earned and oftentimes comes from having the hardest conversations and through navigating challenges. We are committed to having hard conversations, inviting and offering critical feedback, and adjusting our methods and practices.

Funding priority

Our intentions are to support community first. We ensure that community members/organizations are funded in a way that honors lived experience and with an eye towards building local leadership and capacity. Our intentions are to ensure that funding for EJ is implemented by and for community first. Scholarly exercises are simply a tool which we will use to support fenceline communities – not the other way around.

There must always be local grassroots connection and representation

Whenever we are hosting or at an event or discussing something that is about a specific community, members of that community must be present.

Science in the context of justice, without it, we risk perpetuating systems of oppression and inequities

Without explicit consideration of justice and equity science can, and has too often, created and perpetuated harm in communities of color, Indigenous, low-income, rural, immigrant and migrant communities. Issue area experts have an opportunity to advance fights for justice, but only when they are listening to and valuing lived experience, and developing information in service of change. Science and science-based policies provide opportunities to identify problems and craft solutions along with lived experience and indigenous or traditional knowledge. SciCAN focuses only on conducting, supporting, and replicating justice-based science.

Systemic, structural change

We seek to upend the root causes of inequities by tackling marginalization, oppression, and power imbalances. SciCAN rejects JEDI just for the sake of checking boxes and keeping power structures in place that continue to harm our overburdened communities. We work only with those that are aligned in values, and we call out and disrupt when we see otherwise.

Equitable Relationships

Our relationships must be structured so that power imbalance and inequities are taken into account from the beginning. We ensure this by defining relationship roles and expectations in advance, developing agreements, and compensating people for their time.

Our interconnectedness is fundamental

All of our fights for justice are interconnected, and we work in solidarity with all oppressed people everywhere. Whenever asked and is feasible, we will show up and contribute to our partners efforts, and we will not shut down conversations that don’t fit in a predetermined box.