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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Sherrie Steiner


Department of Sociology;Department of Organizational Leadership and Supervision

Sponsor Department/Program

Department of Sociology


We are providing residents surrounding the Hartford Iron & Metal (HI&M) facility with groundwater contamination results, distributing hand soap labeled with contact information for reporting violations to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), and collecting nine upwind/downwind moss samples to analyze for possible air contamination. Located in Blackford County, HI&M sits in the middle of a low SES residential neighborhood where many residents rent; it lacks a neighborhood association. Blackford County Concerned Citizens (BCCC) is investigating the concerns of residents in relation to the industrial history of the county in an attempt to improve public health. Statistics indicate that Blackford County has significantly higher levels of three types of cancers – colon, thyroid, bladder – in Indiana. HI&M, IDEM and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) entered an agreement in 2009 and a 2010 site assessment showed soil samples that were contaminated with heavy metals and organic compounds. HI&M had not complied with the court order as of 2015 and IDEM is responsible for enforcement of that order and has been slow to force remediation. Recent remediation efforts have been focused on groundwater contamination and municipality entities and have ignored other avenues of contamination, including air pollutants surrounding HI&M. The goal of this service learning course is to cultivate human agency by development of collective consciousness that seeks to address the concerns of affected residents. We aim to address HI&M’s ecological impact on the surrounding neighborhood by empowering residents in light of institutional deficiencies.

Promoting Civic Engagement, Cultivating Human Agency and Stimulating Environmental Justice