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Promoting research ethics training: Understandings of community, partnership, virtue and diversity

Dissertation
Author: Dianne Quigley
Abstract:
In this dissertation, "Promoting Research Ethics Training: Understandings of Community, Partnership, Virtue and Diversity," I argue for expanding traditional research ethics training beyond a sole focus on the individual for human subjects protections to protections and beneficence for the geographic community as a subject of research. Health and environmental researchers who conduct interventions in geographic communities require new ethics training on community-based engagement and participatory research approaches. These new approaches are being implemented to overcome past research experiences that produced too few benefits for many geographic communities with multiple disparity conditions and multiracial groups. Researchers now need to engage community members in partnerships; learn about local contextual conditions and subjective meanings of the community of study; and conduct cultural appropriate interventions with diverse groups. I argue for expanded training on meanings of community, on ethical theories that can support community-based partnerships and on intercultural models of community research to promote more respect with diverse cultural groups. I demonstrate the value of Religious Studies training, its texts and methods for conducting this expanded ethics training. With an investigation of the varied meanings of community associated with health and environmental interventions, researchers can be more prepared for engaging community members for collaborative research designs and methods and for producing beneficent outcomes. A need for building community solidarity and capacities is dramatic in geographic communities with disadvantaged conditions. Understandings of moral solidarities, the movements of robust socialities and creative interpersonal relationships are extremely useful to the conduct of participatory research approaches. More integration of biomedical research principles in research reports of community-based studies can advance the acceptance of partnership approaches with research ethics committees and academic research disciplines. A development of virtue training and analyses in community-based approaches is also proposed. The design and conduct of intercultural or interworld research models can be developed with more study on culturally-based meanings of community and knowledge values. New case studies on culturally diverse research methods demonstrate new creative arrangements in participatory research. I urge Religious Studies scholars to offer more expertise to all these ethical dimensions of community-based approaches to health and environmental research.

Table of Contents

I. Introduction......................................................................................................... 1

II. Chapter One: Research Ethics Training on Community Engagement and Meanings of Community................................................................................... 19

A. Introduction: An Argument for Research Ethics Training in Community Engagement ............................................................................................. 19 B. The Traditional Expert-Driven Approach to Community Studies .......... 21

C. Ethical Obligations to Individuals as Part of Geographic Communities and to Community Groups....................................................................... 27

D. Reported Harms from Collective Risks of Community Interventions Studies ..................................................................................................... 35 E. Defining the Community for Research Engagement with Geographic Communities of Study............................................................................. 49

F. Conclusion .............................................................................................. 61

III. Chapter Two: Perspectives from Religions Studies on Autonomy, Sociality and Community for Research Ethics Training ................................................... 65

A. Introduction: The Need for Theoretical Perspectives on Community/Sociality ......................................................................... 65 B. An Argument for Religious Studies Training for Improving Research Ethics with Geographic Communities ..................................... 65 C. Theoretical Foundations on Autonomy and Individualism Guiding Individual Human Subjects Research Protections ..................... 73 D. Sociality, Solidarity and Community: Perspectives from Religious Studies for Research Ethics Training...................................... 94 E. Conclusion ............................................................................................. 122

IV. Chapter Three: Research Ethics Training for Community-based Participatory Research Partnerships.................................................................. 124

A. Introduction: Overview of Goals for Research Ethics Training Needed for CBPR Partnerships ........................................................... 124 B. Arguing CBPR within Biomedical Principles ....................................... 126 C. Research Ethics Training On Other Ethical Theories Relevant to Community Intervention Research through CBPR Partnerships .......... 148

D. Communitarian Ethics and Ethics of Care ............................................ 175 E. Conclusion............................................................................................... 182 v

V. Chapter Four: Intercultural Research Ethics Training: Native American, African and Other Indigenous Ethical Perspectives on Community and Science/Knowledge ........................................................................................... 186

A. Introduction: The Need for Culturally-Based Approaches In CBPR Research ................................................................................ 186 B. African, Native American/Indigenous Ethical Perspectives on Community and Science/Knowledge Practices ..................................... 193 C. Other Culturally-based Discourse and Research Models........................ 211 D. Conclusion ............................................................................................. 216

VI. Chapter Five: Conclusion and Field Report................................................ 219

A. Dissertation Conclusion ......................................................................... 219 B. Field Report of Research Ethics Training and Course Implementation ................................................................... 224

VII. Bibliography.................................................................................................... 232 VIII. Vita ................................................................................................................ 240

v i

1 Introduction

Traditional research ethics training is focused on research protections for individual human subjects with little discussion of the subjective and moral dimensions of conducting research with the geographic community of study. Researchers who conduct community studies on health and environmental adversities often are confronted by the complex problems of poverty, racial oppression, environmental degradation and other social inequities. In this dissertation, I argue for research ethics training for understandings of community, partnership, virtue and diversity in order to prepare researchers for community intervention studies. 1 In the past two decades, case studies, ethics guidelines and advice have become available to improve the conduct of research in geographic communities, particularly for those communities with disadvantaged conditions. Researchers do not have this new ethics training available in many academic research departments. The need to respect persons as part of (or embedded within) a geographic community has not been emphasized in research ethics regulation and training. Research ethics committees prefer to consider individual research subjects as autonomous agents, without any group or cultural controlling influences as part of the respect for persons. Some common or unique research risks exist for cultural/collective groups residing in geographic communities. Specialized research

1 The term, “community intervention study” is defined as a study conducted by outside researchers to alleviate an adverse health, environmental or other community problem affecting community members in a specific geographic community. 3 Environmental justice and community-based research movements are defined and discussed in Chapter One of the dissertation.

2 approaches may be needed for these groups with various disparity conditions in health, environment, housing, education and other social problems. Community and cultural groups have voiced complaints about the conduct of scientific research in their researched communities. In national advocacy conferences, regional meetings and literature sources, numerous stories have been recounted regarding incidences of exploitation, disrespect and stigmatization of community members caused by some research teams. Some compartmentalized, empirical research approaches on human groups and communities have not produced much benefit for solving community-based problems. These approaches usually do not account for interrelated impacts and harms that exist in geographic communities with multiple adverse conditions. Such research complaints have the potential to threaten the continued recruitment and participation of subjects in government-sponsored research. The frustration and anger of many community members have led to new advocacy movements such as environmental justice and community-based participatory research. 3

The term “community,” is a central focus of this dissertation. Public health and environmental professionals use the term community quite generally without distinguishing its varied and significant meanings. It is useful to clarify these diverse meanings for the study of “community” in research ethics training in order to improve a researcher’s engagement with a community of study. “Geographic communities” is used throughout this dissertation to characterize primarily politically bounded towns, cities, villages/communities (both urban and rural) and tribal communities, all with their own contextual and embedded

3 conditions. Politically bounded communities have culturally diverse groups within their boundaries, and contain multiple neighborhoods within one community with one or various ethnic groupings affected by a common health or environmental problem. A geographic community is also a politically bounded area that funders and researchers use for designating a service area. The term “community” can signify a research service area where outside academic and government research experts engage with non-technical or lay residents of a town, city or village to study a research problem. The research use of “community” often can be interpreted as a collective lay research subject; as for example, an area where cases and controls are identified in a database. Researchers often will study the individuals and groups in the service area, referring to them as the community. “Community” in the researchers’ context can merely be an objectified research category for health and environmental interventions and services in a designated area. Community is invested with more meaning when some community residents have shared histories, a sense of belonging, common experiences, joint actions and shared personal meanings with their locality. For these residents, the term “community” is associated with an interconnectedness; representing a strong social and emotional bond to their locality and place. Health and environmental threats to these residents may harm longtime relationships to friends and neighbors, attachments to historical landscapes and recreational areas or the safety and maintenance of local institutions (schools, churches, and businesses). In their protection of property and local space, residents may use the term community to signify local agency; the power and capacity of community members to

4 confront and restore adverse conditions in a group solidarity. The implied demands of the term community are higher than that of just being a resident in a geographic community. “Community” calls on each community member to organize and equip him/herself with capacities and resources to resolve a shared problem. In larger public forums, residents will use this term “community” to beg health and environmental officials to respect their local solidarities and collective efforts for protecting themselves. The statement, “We are the community” is often heard in meetings with health agencies to imply how residents are a social force for protecting their local place of residence. These geographic community representatives are both residents of a politically bounded space and agents for increasing community protection and restoration. They also can be identified as community stakeholders who will be represented among other business, government, or academic stakeholders for the planning of health and environmental interventions in their locality. The term community can be used to realize a higher ideal for organizing a socially cooperative effort among many diverse groups, geographic community members, academic, government and business representatives. Together, such a coalition can be broadly empowered in one or many geographic communities to improve local health and environmental conditions. For example, the “environmental justice community” is a broad collective of locally based community members, academic researchers, and government and foundation funders as well as other agents. Based in research, community action, education, funding initiatives, policy analysis and development, this collective unites many diverse agents and local community members across the country.

5 Research ethics training for the conduct of research in a geographic community will involve working with these varied uses of the term “community.” Engaging community participation and building the local community’s agency and solidarity have become essential to creating effective community intervention approaches even moreso in resource-poor, geographic communities with multiple disparity conditions. Traditionally, the role of building relationships and engaging community members in a shared research effort has not been required of researchers nor has training been available for those activities. To just regard the community as a service area or collective research subject will limit a researcher’s ability to work with a community of study; as more research protections and benefits may be developed through an understanding of the subjective meanings of a geographic community. Many geographic communities have suffered from the adverse effects of rapid industrialization and urbanization of the past century. In this dissertation, I demonstrate how moral complexities associated with pressures of this modernization should be studied and evaluated in geographic community interventions. Successive expert-driven studies, conducted by researchers who do specialized, technical analyses of health and environmental effects, often do not produce results that account for the interrelated impacts of poverty, pollution and racialized oppression. At the same time, scientific researchers may appear to gain privileges and economic advantages in directing knowledge inquiry processes that may not do much to alleviate the distressed conditions of these geographic communities. In these situations, community members often become desperate to increase their agency and

6 solidarity in their local communities for alleviating their chronic health and environmental problems. Many scientists and community members are now working together to construct more complex research models that can offer remedies to the adverse social justice conditions, multiple disease and exposure impacts, and knowledge disparities in geographic communities. In this dissertation, a focus on partnership follows the emphasis on community. Partnership arrangements lead to broader solidarity and social cooperation among diverse social groups (researchers, community members, government and private funders); the solidarity inferred by new community-based movements such as the “environmental justice movement.“ Research ethics training on these new participatory, democratic research processes can be widely useful to researchers, government representatives and community members. Researchers are asked to help to build community capacities and gather local knowledge while respecting local community-based and cultural traditions. Still, these community health or environmental researchers must uphold scientific veracity in their investigations. Participatory research methods can result in more sustainable research interventions that can strengthen individual rights and autonomy, community capacity and solidarity. These new research initiatives that ensure community-based value (the maximizing of benefits to the local community) along with generalized beneficence for the society have become more acceptable for geographic communities with multiple adversities. As a result, new advocacy for community-academic research partnerships, community advisory boards or

7 community-based collaboration models is being conducted in US research agencies, institutions and funding sources. An examination of these new research arrangements is undeveloped in research ethics training which has primarily centered on the protection of individual human subjects as autonomous agents, and not as members of geographic communities and neighborhoods suffering major adversities together ( e.g., air pollution, asthma). An argument for new research ethics training, including the presentation of case reviews and theories on community engagement and partnership, needs to be formulated for research ethics committees, for academic faculty who are training community health and environmental researchers and for lay community researchers. In developing and conducting this new ethics training, I argue for the value of Religious Studies training. Problems of racism and cultural disrespect, the losses of individual rights and freedoms in resource-poor and contaminated communities, privileged and Eurocentric knowledge values, and other community disparity conditions are complex societal problems that require interdisciplinary analysis. Religious Studies, as a field of study, can provide useful methodological and interdisciplinary approaches to investigating social problems that bear on community health and environmental injustices and degradation impacts. In Religious Studies, philosophical, anthropological, theological and postmodern perspectives can be informative to understanding the moral dimensions of these social justice inequities. As sources for this project, I have selected philosophers, theologians, culturally diverse theorists and feminists from various traditions in Religious Studies.

8 I include the work of liberal individualists along with the social, theological and communitarian theorists. Although these theorists, brought together in this dissertation, are not philosophically compatible, their ideas and values are reflected in the demands of diverse groups and individuals involved in deliberative processes and forums for community-based health and environmental research. Some groups and individuals want to supplement individual rights with group protections and rights. Many cultural groups demand attention to spiritual and religious values in conducting secular research activities. Relational and contextual community information may be demanded in data collection tasks along with the standard needs for rationalistic, scientific data collection and analysis. These potentially conflicting demands from various stakeholders involved in field studies derive from particular philosophical and ethical ideas on autonomy, sociality and diverse knowledge systems. Researchers can become more prepared for varying and conflicting orientations to research ethics and community engagement through a brief study of the foundational theoretical and philosophical perspectives from which they are derived. I have provided some of the more significant ideas of these differing philosophers to orient researchers to perspectives that are relevant to ethical approaches to community engagement and participation. The Kantian philosophy on individual moral autonomy should be studied along with an understanding of group moral solidarities found in the work of the sociologist, Emile Durkheim. John Stewart Mill will resist social rights and group pressures while communitarians will want community consensus on social values and goods. Virtue ethics are not discussed at all in much of the public health or environmental studies literature even as

9 community-based researchers and organizers value the virtues of social cooperation. A short review of that understudied ethical theory is included as part of this proposed research ethics training. Knowledge values and meanings of community among diverse cultures are also informative to researchers for their engagement with multiracial geographic communities. Cultural diversity is a critical subject for research ethics training for geographic communities. Proponents of research ethics training have found that its inclusion in the curricula of many technical research disciplines has been challenging. It is not a subject area that attracts much funding or interest. In the National Bioethics Advisory Commission Report (NBAC), there is an appeal from the Commission to Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) and research institutions to conduct this training on an ongoing basis. Education is the foundation of the oversight system and is essential to protecting research participants. In all of our reports, we have highlighted the need to educate all those involved in research with human participants, including the public, investigators, IRB members, institutions, and federal agencies....In this report, we again acknowledge the inadequacy of educational programs on research ethics in the United States. This deficiency begins at the highest level within the federal oversight system and extends to the local level at individual institutions. We recommend that investigators and IRB members and staff successfully complete educational programs on research ethics and become certified before they perform or review research, that research ethics be taught to the next generation of scientists, and that research ethics be included in continuing education programs. 4

The NBAC stresses this point again in its recommendations how education should be promoted:

4

National Bioethics Advisory Commission (NBAC), 2002. The Belmont Report: at www.bioethics.org : 7. Updated from the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research (1979). The Belmont Report: Ethical Principles and

Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research. Washington, DC.

10 Recommendation 3.2: The federal government, in partnership with academic and professional societies, should enhance research ethics education related to protecting human research participants and stimulate the development of innovative educational programs. Professional societies should be consulted so that educational programs are designed to meet the needs of all who conduct and review research. 5

Shortly after this recommendation, the federal research agencies did require a certification for research ethics training for principal investigators on federally funded research grants which is conducted on-line as a one-day program. This on-line course includes a review of Belmont Principles; several case studies in research ethics; the history of human subjects protections; and the need for ongoing individual human subject protection, particularly through informed consent mechanisms. In a 2007 report, the Society of Public Health Educators (SOPHE) reported the findings of a survey on “Ethics and Health Education,” which was disseminated to thirty-nine faculty members representing a variety of health education and promotion programs across the US. These key issues were surveyed. Did they teach research ethics courses? Seven percent of the faculty responded that they taught health-related ethics in a separate course; eighty-five percent taught ethics inside other courses; and seven percent did not teach any ethics. The ethics course addressed ethical principles, codes of ethics, morals and values; with the use of some case studies and practical situations. A majority of the faculty (89%) responded that they could do much better at teaching research ethics if they had training, but one hundred percent lacked training on ethics. 6 In an informal survey of websites of major environmental schools, I can report that ethics training on human subjects protections is not

5 Ibid: NBAC 2002:10

6 Marks, Ray, and SE Shive, Health Department Faculty Perceptions about Ethics in Professional Preparation. Health Promotion Practice, October 2007

11 provided. These schools generally offer a course on environmental ethics. These few findings do demonstrate a need for much more promotion of research ethics training on both basic human subjects protection, as well as on the community-based and cultural complexities that affect research inquiry in geographic community interventions. IRBs have thin ethical reviews of the conduct of community studies. In a survey of IRBs, Flicker et al reported on the findings of a questionnaire sent to IRB committees of thirty schools of public health. Flicker et al had asked ten questions that pertained to whether the IRB committees conducted any ethical review of various aspects of community research. Their key questions were: (1) Is there community involvement in the rationale of research? (2) Is there community staff training or community capacity-building? (3) Is there an evaluation of power relationships between participants and researchers? (4) Are there risks and benefits on the community/societal level identified? (5) Who is managing the budget? (6) Is there an equitable distribution of resources between community and institutional partners? (7) Are there forms of community consent? (8) Are there community partners or community advisory boards?

12 For all of these questions, ninety to one hundred percent of the IRBs responded that they did not have questions pertaining to these eight ethical review areas. 7

In this dissertation, I argue strongly for the need to promote more than just the standard human subjects training but also training in the complex understandings of community conditions, community engagement, partnership and cultural diversity. Undoubtedly, given the low popularity of basic research ethics training, it is an ambitious program to advocate for new training for scientific researchers to improve the ethics of their research practices in dealing with adverse conditions of geographic communities. Nonetheless, for the purpose of advancing social justice, good science, and improved understandings of ethical approaches of research in pluralistic geographic communities, I argue for the value of this training throughout this dissertation. Personally, I have successfully implemented and promoted some of this training in eight universities on the East Coast particularly for students interested in community-based research approaches. 8

This dissertation is organized into five chapters. In Chapter One, Research Ethics Training on Community Engagement and Concepts/Meanings of Community, an argument for the objectified study of community is presented. Researchers who value scientific rationalism maintain detached understandings of subjects and objects in an effort to produce an objective analysis of study subjects or environmental

7 Flicker, Sarah, R.Travers, A. Guta, S. MacDonald, A. Meagher, Ethical Dilemmas in Community-based Participatory Research: Recommendations for Institutional Review Boards. Journal of Urban Health, Bulletin of New York Academy of Medicine, v. 84 #4, 2007:484 8

For more information on this effort, please see www.researchethics.org.

13 problems. They may resist training on the subjective, historical and contextual understandings of communities of study. The need to gather information on these community-based dimensions can be viewed as a distraction or a violation to the standards of objectivity and academic rigor needed for technically driven scientific activities. I counter this argument with the various problems that have occurred in communities of study when researchers lack information on contextual conditions and cultural appropriateness. Researchers have caused inadvertent harms that adversely affected community relationships, data collection activities, dissemination of results and data interpretation/ownership. Exploitation of community members and the stigmatization of a geographic community’s name, in particular, are research harms caused by researchers who have very little engagement of community members in their research planning. Researchers are often not sensitive to the burdens of their research on community members nor are they aware that the publicized results of adversities in the geographic community can damage a community’s reputation. Federal funding agencies have responded to these problems by sponsoring new community-based participatory research (CBPR) funding programs – providing the first models of community-based engagement for scientific/knowledge inquiry activities. In undertaking community-based engagement with community groups and members, researchers often need to define the community of study. New field literature has been published on defining the community for engagement. Field practitioners are requiring more clarification on these definitions for organizing

14 community-based partnerships. I provide some key summaries of the definitions of community published by field practitioners. In Chapter Two, Theories and Perspectives from Religious Studies on Autonomy and Community for Research Ethics Training, I argue for how Religious Studies training can further our understanding of improving research ethics with geographic communities. A description of the discipline, its educational objectives for advanced training, and its subject areas are provided to acquaint empirical researchers with this discipline. A Religious Studies approach to research ethics training will require an interdisciplinary investigation of relevant social problems that are not as deeply investigated in practice fields but affect the efficacy of community intervention approaches (e.g. cultural diversity, meanings of community, moral solidarities, and knowledge values). Additionally, a Religious Studies approach to research ethics training for geographic communities will not avoid the moral complexities of health and environmental research but instead will examine them and offer useful perspectives to these needs. I explore first the foundational philosophies on the primacy of the respect for autonomy found in biomedical research protections. Essays from John Locke on individual rights, and John Stuart Mill on individual freedom and expression are summarized. I elaborate on Immanuel Kant’s individual autonomy; influential to our respect for persons and our use of universalistic moral rules in research ethics protections. Although such foundational philosophies exist on autonomy and individual liberalism, exerting a strong influence on scientific research practices, philosophies on the concept of community and sociality do not have the same

15 influential force or development in research ethics training. A more robust moral examination of sociality and community is needed for how such group influences affect individual autonomy and individual freedoms for members of geographic communities with many disparity conditions. Emile Durkheim provides one of the few discussions of the evolution of moral solidarity. Industrial/technological development has allowed many individuals to form new group solidarities from the expansion of many human groups into cities and from a specialized division of labor. Durkheim’s research and philosophy provide some basis for studying group solidarity and the social nature of the individual. Martin Buber also explores the social nature of the individual as he/she is interacting with a community. He describes how a deeper openness to the other is needed to create community. With Buber, interhuman differences are a place for creative interrelations to advance more complex social solidarity. Taken together, these diverse approaches provide a background for how researchers can evaluate the moral dimensions of protecting personal autonomy and individual rights while building a community-based solidarity that advances improved scientific assessments and social justice needs. In Chapter Three, Research Ethics Training for Community-Based Research Partnerships, new training is needed to justify CBPR as a rigorous research approach within the principles of biomedical ethics. CBPR has not been adequately argued to research ethics committees as achieving the moral requirements of the Belmont Principles (beneficence, justice and the respect for autonomy). One clinical research team described the CBPR approach through its compliance to the rules of research

16 ethics principles; providing a robust justification of CBPR for research ethics. I stress the importance of arguing for CBPR under the Belmont principle ethics to increase its research acceptance by the scientific community. Scientific value, community-based value, improved informed consent and improvements to chronic community-based problems all can be achieved through CBPR approaches. Additionally, I encourage research ethics training on how CBPR community review processes can supplement IRB reviews. These locally based research reviews can provide more access and equity to community representatives for increasing research integrity in their geographic communities. CBPR is viewed by its practitioners as a virtuous research paradigm; as they profess a firm commitment to increasing justice, capacity, fairness, and respect for research participants and host communities. I argue for new practical benefits of incorporating understandings of virtue ethics in research ethics training for strengthening community interventions. CBPR is a socially-cooperative activity that does demand an attention to virtues. CBPR was developed to respond to a perceived lack of respect, trust and mutuality from research teams with lay community members and groups. These specific virtues are described within the context of CBPR case studies, informing researchers of the varying needs each virtue can require with diverse groups. I argue that CBPR interventions often fail without an ordering and development of the virtues needed to sustain them. With a brief review of virtue ethics from Aristotle, Hildegard of Bingen and Alasdair MacIntyre, I encourage more scholarly development of this training for CBPR practitioners. Community-based theory and ethics of care attend to needs for sociality, community-building, mutuality

17 and interdependence. These two theories are often set apart from Belmont Principles since their theorists do not give an overriding primacy to individual autonomy. Still, I offer a brief review of community-based theory and ethics of care for research ethics training and the relevance that these theories may have for meeting the challenges of partnership-building and community organizing within a research intervention. In Chapter Four, Intercultural Research Ethics Training: Native American, African and Other Indigenous Ethical Perspectives on Community and Science/ Knowledge, I advocate for more research ethics training on working with cultural groups and cultural diversity in community intervention studies. I have researched several culturally diverse meanings of community from Native American and African scholars. By learning about the similarities and differences to Euroamerican meanings of community, researchers can work creatively with the culturally based traditions and beliefs of diverse community members and groups in a research intervention. Native Americans and other indigenous communities have ancient knowledge traditions that they believe to be as credible as Euroamerican empirical science traditions. The descriptions of Native and other culturally diverse knowledge values and scientific practices can be explored by community researchers who work with these groups. I present several brief summaries of these knowledge systems and encourage an openness to these culturally based systems so that researchers might overcome an ethnocentric privilege in knowledge construction and unconscious forms of scientific arrogance in dealing with diverse cultural groups. New case examples from CBPR have shown positive benefits from an emergent research approach that incorporates Euroamerican and culturally based knowledge traditions in one

Full document contains 251 pages
Abstract: In this dissertation, "Promoting Research Ethics Training: Understandings of Community, Partnership, Virtue and Diversity," I argue for expanding traditional research ethics training beyond a sole focus on the individual for human subjects protections to protections and beneficence for the geographic community as a subject of research. Health and environmental researchers who conduct interventions in geographic communities require new ethics training on community-based engagement and participatory research approaches. These new approaches are being implemented to overcome past research experiences that produced too few benefits for many geographic communities with multiple disparity conditions and multiracial groups. Researchers now need to engage community members in partnerships; learn about local contextual conditions and subjective meanings of the community of study; and conduct cultural appropriate interventions with diverse groups. I argue for expanded training on meanings of community, on ethical theories that can support community-based partnerships and on intercultural models of community research to promote more respect with diverse cultural groups. I demonstrate the value of Religious Studies training, its texts and methods for conducting this expanded ethics training. With an investigation of the varied meanings of community associated with health and environmental interventions, researchers can be more prepared for engaging community members for collaborative research designs and methods and for producing beneficent outcomes. A need for building community solidarity and capacities is dramatic in geographic communities with disadvantaged conditions. Understandings of moral solidarities, the movements of robust socialities and creative interpersonal relationships are extremely useful to the conduct of participatory research approaches. More integration of biomedical research principles in research reports of community-based studies can advance the acceptance of partnership approaches with research ethics committees and academic research disciplines. A development of virtue training and analyses in community-based approaches is also proposed. The design and conduct of intercultural or interworld research models can be developed with more study on culturally-based meanings of community and knowledge values. New case studies on culturally diverse research methods demonstrate new creative arrangements in participatory research. I urge Religious Studies scholars to offer more expertise to all these ethical dimensions of community-based approaches to health and environmental research.