Recent Forum Posts
From categories:
Rufus Chaffee (guest) 14 Mar 2014 20:52
in discussion Hidden / Per page discussions » First Month Recap

I am interested in education and public health, and am a master in both. I spent 40 years as a lead trainer in substance abuse prevention for several single state authorities. From the start my own training and education centered on the public health discipline applied to abuse and addiction. My instinct indicates, look for resources outside of academic settings or at least vet the academics. MDs are trained in drugs by pharma, and their prescribing practices are a vested interest. Schools of medicine like this. Public health agencies toe a political line, and schools train them to do that. Always follow the money. I am suggesting you look to include some grizzled heretics for they are the radicals. I understand the comfort of a support group; it's a need every soldier needs.

by Rufus Chaffee (guest), 14 Mar 2014 20:52

This might also belong here:

Radical Public Health was in part founded in response to public health curricula that we think inadequately address several topics of extreme importance to public health, including:

  • militarism, war prevention, and peace promotion
  • mass incarceration and the prison nation
  • neoliberalism
  • trauma and sexual violence
  • protest and dissent as key tools to achieving health equity
  • facing and overcoming economic and political oppression and structural violence.

The goal of achieving health equity requires that these subjects and others be thoroughly covered in both scholarship and practice of public health. We promote active discourse and action to address such issues of extreme importance to the health of the public.

I added "economic" to WHO's definition. Thought about adding "political," but then we'd really be getting idealistic. Is anyone anywhere in a state of complete "political" health?

So… Merriam and Webster offer a good start here, but I'm interested in how we might apply "radical," not just what it denotes. I like the emphasis on root (interestingly ancient Greek herbalists weren't called radicals, they were called rhizomata) — but how do we get to the root?

Are we focusing on fundamental critique, structural interventions, challenging ahistoricity? All of the above?

Or if "we" is too big a question (it intimidates me; I can't answer it), how about you? What do you mean by the "radical" in RPH?

I think public health is more than "public" + "health." This is an awesome start, but I'm more inclined to participate in a public health page — I think we have original critique and content to develop there, and Ol' Merriam and Webster seem to have this one nailed down. :)

public health by Grace KellerGrace Keller, 23 Feb 2014 09:29

Thoughts on how to use this site…Maybe we can start by sharing information about things we've already done, and build from there? So far we've had success at engaging people in person at events (and to a tiny extent, on Facebook). Instead of starting from scratch here, I think we might find it easier to start by using this as a tool to build upon our success at engaging people in person, and build up to engaging people online first.

We could make pages for each of the events we've held so far and providing the background information we shared before, during, and occasionally after those events. This could include general meetings. Detailing how those were structured could provide a resource that several people have already asked us for: how to start a Radical Public Health group in other schools. This could also help us with follow-up for (past and) future events. We can direct people to the event's wiki page, where we (and they! if they want) will share any resources that were mentioned at the event and guide people to further information if they're interested in probing deeper. That's something we haven't done well so far, so we can use this as a tool to improve.

Then once we've gotten started by building the site around what we've already done, we could begin developing pages around issues we haven't yet addressed through an event. Those might turn into in-person discussion meetings or even other kinds of events, or we can see what else. But I think that starting where we are, with what we've already built, might give us a more solid foundation — and hopefully some kind of framework — to build upon.

What do you guys think?

The politics of disability can be better understood by examining different "models" (approaches blended with basic assumptions) of difference, disability, and illness.1

  • medical models involve diagnosis with an illness or syndrome and treatment (sometimes glossed as support or education) by professionals, followed by cure, remission, or relapse. Subjects of the medical model are usually referred to as patients, clients, or victims. Medical models privilege the "expert" position and projections of normalcy.
  • social models emphasize the network of relations and forces in past and present lived experience, and often involve building personal and social power through peer networking and sharing one's own story. Social models privilege lived experience and many ways of being/many paths to healing.
    • trauma and addiction social models involve acknowledging harms and working towards recovery by many paths.
    • diversity social models involve acknowledging difference, working against discrimiation and abuse (including denial of access to supports), and changing social norms.
  • spiritual models are very diverse, emphasizing the play of forces on a person or group of people, and the potential for transformation inherent in difference, extreme states, and pain. They radically recontextualize and privilege aspects of life that may have previously carried stigma and suffering. Preferred outcomes include recovery, salvation, spiritual awakening, and finding a higher calling.
  • eclectic models pragmatically draw from "whatever works" from the previous models, tolerate contradictions, and change as over time.

Each model has ways of interpreting and contextualizing issues faced by many different, disabled, and ill people like alienation, discrimination, role accomodation, poverty, suffering, and chronicity.

I think then you are missing the best definition of legally defined disability "the ADA defines a person with a disability as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This includes people who have a record of such an impairment, even if they do not currently have a disability. It also includes individuals who do not have a disability but are regarded as having a disability"


  • I agree that outsider criticism is useful in helping us clarify what the purpose is and how best to fulfill that purpose in a way that is intentional and thorough, and is defensible/accessible to those who might be open to learning from and/or contributing.
  • Just a bit of reflection going into the purpose conversation, the PreventConnect wiki was enormously helpful to me during my capstone, and my coworkers and I use it in our work with the health commission (for instance, when designing training curriculum with partner organizations and within the health commission). I have recently had conversations with current public health students (at Columbia and Tufts) and my coworkers about other public health topics with a radical lens as they relate to schoolwork and projects at work respectively, and I can see how a similar resource for these issues on this platform and from a RPH lens would be beneficial.
  • Perhaps something to consider in the wiki or if we use another platform, in terms of the "tone" of the talk pages or elsewhere, taking into consideration some of the reasons why more women (and I'm sure some men as well) don't contribute to Wikipedia—how we can make the climate as welcoming as possible, how to go about criticism in a way that doesn't shut people down, understanding that folks are at different places, etc.

Over the next month or two, we need to:

  • Articulate the purpose of the wiki.
  • Enunciate our goals for the site.
  • Develop the layout of the site to meet the purpose and goals.
We have work to do! by wesleyepplinwesleyepplin, 19 Jan 2014 15:53

1) What are the referents? In other words, are we attempting to build a collaborative definitional database of public health terms and projects? That's awesome, though perhaps not particularly "radical" - I'd start with overviews of the major theoretical approaches, for one thing. Or is this just a "I feel grouchy about how the public health sector has an incredible weight to bear and doesn't ever carry it very far" complaint choir? That's kind of where my blogs have tended to end up, but it isn't really that important a project.

2) What are the ideological critiques? Why, other than not solving the worlds' problems, is public health in need of reframing? Because the ineffectiveness of public health is something public health workers are generally quite aware of. Yes there are assumptions people take for granted, but even these have robust internal critiques to answer to. Are you proposing an alternate funding, policy, or specific theoretical model?

My point is, policy statements are interesting, but it would be more interesting to have a theoretical approach and an information resource. If I were a public health student, I might feel vindicated that smart people are for decriminalization of drugs, but what would keep me coming back would be cogent discussions (with cites!) of *how* decriminalization has worked, and what the pluses and minuses of each model are. Wikipedia doesn't even have this for general readers, let alone for MPH students, so it would be a general improvement of the internet.

I agree that 'everything is public health,' and everything is more or less fair game. However I think this does need to differ from wikipedia in that we do relate things to public health in some way, and we provide resources for people who are doing research on the topics. Additionally, I'd like to consciously use public health terminology in critiquing the same issues (i.e. social determinants of health — why is this problematic? food deserts - why is this problematic? What is a "low hanging fruit" in public health) and so on. I think based on our education at SPH we've been given a toolkit, essentially, and we can expand on that in a radical tradition (and bring in other folks, of course, from other disciplines.) Overall I like how it's looking so far.

Even if not everything is super useful, I think there's a lot of area to apply critical theory to public health. Even if we're just talking about post-structuralism or neoliberalism or whatever, it's important to provide that context to public health practitioners since I know we didn't hear about any of that stuff in class. And as we know, language (words or the absence of words) is important in shaping ideology, and I know we hope to shape ideology at SPH and elsewhere.

by Vadim Y GershteynVadim Y Gershteyn, 04 Jan 2014 03:04
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License