The Key Role of Social Inclusion in Promoting Urban Social Sustainability: An Exploration and Application to Health Equity

By Jana L. Meinhold, Cat Goughnour, Ben Duncan, Veronica Dujon, LeRoy Patton, Eileen Muench Brennan and Jesse Dillard.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context

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Building upon a working definition of social sustainability as the processes and institutions that generate health and well-being now and in the future (Dillard, Dujon, and King 2009a), we argue that social inclusion is necessary to ensure that social processes yield collectively higher levels of societal well-being. Social inclusion requires that all persons have effective input into those development processes that affect them, within the current and anticipated constellations of social and economic power. Sen (1999) stated that the purpose of development is to improve human lives by expanding the range of things that a person could be and do. To achieve these they must have access to certain freedoms: the ability to maintain themselves and to have the power or personal agency to bring about change in the world in which they live. Our paper reviews the central role of inclusion in promoting sustainability via an examination of the Community Partnership for Health and Equity, a university-community collaborative seeking to eliminate health disparities for low-income residents of Portland, Oregon, USA using a community-based participatory research approach.

Keywords: Social Sustainability, Social Inclusion, Health Equity, Community-based Participatory Research

The International Journal of Social Sustainability in Economic, Social and Cultural Context, Volume 11, Issue 1, March 2015, pp.11-23. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 888.608KB).

Dr. Jana L. Meinhold

Assistant Professor, Child and Family Studies, School of Social Work, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA

As a native to the northwest states in the United States, I have been afforded the opportunity to play and live in an environmentally and socially conscious space. Receiving my doctorate degree in human development and family sciences has allowed for a diverse palate of interests in my scholarship and community engagement. Coupled with a childhood full of family and the outdoors, I have a natural inclination to social and environmental sustainability research. In the areas of social and environmental sustainability, I have focused my energies on the: 1) self-development of youth and environmental engagement, specifically the impact of environmental behaviors and knowledge on self-efficacy in young populations; 2) importance of understanding pathways for youth to leadership positions in environmental sustainability, with a focus on mentoring relationships; and finally, 3) intersection of environment and health equity in Portland, OR.

Cat Goughnour

CBPR Researcher, Regional Research Institute for Human Services, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Cat Goughnour received a bachelor’s degree from Portland State University, where she studied political philosophy/social sustainability. She received a master’s degree titled Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies from the London School of Economics, University of London (UK). Goughnour is a civil rights activist and advocate for underserved and marginalized communities, currently working to investigate discrimination in housing with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon. She conducts equity and inclusion research and consults with non-profit, governmental and non-governmental entities, such as Runnymede Trust (UK), City of Portland, Office of Equity and Human Rights, and the Regional Research Institute for Human Services, PSU. Trained as a racial justice facilitator with the City of Portland’s Equity Training and Dialogue Program, Goughnour also designs and presents racial justice workshops with Uniting to Understand Racism.

Ben Duncan

Health Equity Manager, Multnomah County Health Department, Multnomah County, Portland, Oregon, USA

Ben Duncan is Board Chair of OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon which works for Environmental Justice in the Portland metro area to support ignored communities that fight against the oppression of pollution and social injustice, and as a policy analyst with Multnomah County Health Department, Environmental Health Division. His work focuses on the relationship between health and the environment, through both policy and community based empowerment work, and touches all aspects of environmental health issues including food borne illness, vector control, air quality, toxics reduction and housing. Outside of Environmental Health, Ben works with the Diversity and Quality Team and the Health Equity Initiative which focus on equity and justice both within and outside the county. He is an appointee to the Governor's Environmental Justice Task Force and the Region X Health Equity Council, and serves on the advisory committee for the Center for Social and Environmental Justice at Washington State University, Vancouver as well as several other committees and boards.

Prof. Veronica Dujon

Associate Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Veronica Dujon is an associate dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow in the Institute of Sustainable Solutions at Portland State University. She teaches, conducts research and publishes in the areas of environmental sociology with a focus on conflicts over declining natural resources; the impact of globalization on people’s well-being; the role of women in the global economy; and the tensions between national development strategies and forces of globalization. She also currently serves as co-principal investigator of the Social Equity and Environmental Health project at Portland State. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in 1995. In 2008, she received the Portland State University Distinguished Faculty Award.

LeRoy Patton

Board Chair, Fair Housing Council of Oregon, Portland, Oregon, USA

LeRoy Patton is a retired Public School Administrator, Office of the Superintendent for over twenty (20) years. A volunteer on the Multnomah County Commission, Poverty Action Committee (PAC) since it’s inception in 1999. He has been a visible and vocal leader in providing guidance and support for critical service needs and administrative planning for establishing priorities funded by the Multnomah County Commission. Presently he serves as the President of the Board of Directors, Fair Housing Council of Oregon (statewide); Member, Elders In Action, State Commission; Board Member, 211 Information/Referral Services, Portland Metropolitan Area/SW Washington, and several other Non-Profit Boards.

Dr. Eileen Muench Brennan

Research Professor of Social Work, Regional Research Institute for Human Services, School of Social Work, Portland State University, Portland, OR, USA

Eileen Muench Brennan is research professor of social work at Portland State University. She has studied issues of social sustainability for the past 15 years and currently serves as co-principal investigator of the Social Equity and Environmental Health project at Portland State University. She has also been co-principal investigator of the Work-Life Integration project at the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children’s Mental Health. A developmental psychologist, she has examined the importance to families of the successful inclusion of children with mental health difficulties in child care through the Models of Inclusion in Child Care project. The author of monographs, book chapters, and articles related to social sustainability, she has presented the results of her research teams’ studies at numerous regional, national, and international conferences. She designed and taught one of the first graduate social work courses in the United States to focus on environmental issues and sustainability. She is co-editor of Social Sustainability: A multilevel Approach to Social Inclusion, (in press), Routledge.

Dr. Jesse Dillard

Professor, School of Business, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA

Jesse Dillard is a professor in accounting at Portland State University and also holds appointments at Queen’s University – Belfast and Victoria University – Wellington. He received a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of South Carolina and a Master of Science in management and Bachelor of Science in management from Clemson University. He has served on the faculties of Ohio State University, University of New Mexico (KPMG Professor), University of Central Florida (KPMG Professor), Portland State University (Retzlaff Chair in Accounting) and Queens’ University Belfast. His published works include books, book chapters, and articles appearing in leading management and accounting journals. His teaching and research interests include the ethical and public interest implications of administrative and information technologies, particularly as they affect social and environmental sustainability and accountability.