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Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


This article introduces a special section on empowered partnerships that deepens a dialogue initiated during the 2010 symposium titled EmPowered Partnerships: Community-Based Participatory Action Research for Environmental Justice. The articles in this section will be divided between issues 1 and 2 of the Journal. After briefly reviewing the definitions and the steps associated with community-based participatory action research (CBPAR), we identify the synergies connecting the underlying principles and values of the environmental justice (EJ) movement and CBPAR. The principles-based comparison is part of an ongoing effort to craft a framework that produces research partnerships that are simultaneously more responsive to community aspirations and increase the rigor and accuracy of the findings. The action step is among the most difficult challenges for both CBPAR and EJ processes; we address this challenge as we encourage partners to think more strategically about the role of law and legal scholarship. This article closes with insight from environmental justice leaders that participated in this symposium and introductions to the in-depth case studies in rural and urban settings and from both ends of the university- community partnerships that constitute this special section. The articles that make up this section unpack empowered partnerships in practice and explore the scientific, cultural, institutional, and democratic pitfalls and possibilities in this arena of inquiry and social action.


This is a copy of an article published in the Environmental Justice © 2013 copyright Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.; Environmental Justice is available online at:



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