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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Amplifying the Voices of Black/Latinx Communities in Policy Discussions

Principal Investigator:

Corey Jackson, assistant professor in The Information School


Kaiping Chen, assistant professor of life sciences communication 

This project will develop strategies to engage and amplify the voices of underrepresented communities through policy deliberations. Despite an increased reliance on data for decision-making in local governments, underrepresented communities often lack access to the knowledge and tools that help them leverage data in meaningful ways to advance their interests. This project will help underrepresented communities to assume a more central role in policy advocacy in local government. . The project extends a current project by the investigators to address disparities in the impacts of climate change and will enable individuals and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which often represent the interests of community members, to participate in deliberations and policies on environmental issues.

The research will be conducted in three phases. Phase I will build knowledge about how communities involve themselves in public policy. In coordination with policy makers and NGO partners, the investigators will conduct interviews and focus groups with their members. In Phase II, the researchers will brainstorm solutions with stakeholders. In Phase III, the researchers will design and implement processes and infrastructure to support communities as they work to develop insights from data about their communities and engage in advocacy in policy discussions.

The significance of this work is that it helps shed light on social and economic inequalities brought about by climate change – deepening our understanding of the concrete ways individuals and communities are impacted. The project also will demonstrate how the voices of historically marginalized and underrepresented populations can be amplified in local government.