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Public Health Humanities

Understanding, developing, and advocating for the arts and humanities within public health research, training, and practice.

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About

The Public Health Humanities network advocates for the importance of arts and humanities research and education within public health; works to overcome barriers to their inclusion; and facilitates connections amongst and between arts and humanities professionals and the wider public health community.

Events

The network hosts a range of seminars, workshops, and other events.

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About
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The Public Health Humanities network responds to calls for the integration of a wider range of disciplinary perspectives within public health, including long-standing work to incorporate history into public health education. Such initiatives have made a powerful case for the value of the arts and humanities as disciplines that develop and deepen understanding, instil curiosity and humility, provide powerful evidence, and generate better public health policy and practice. Public health declares itself to be highly multidisciplinary, but it still remains rare to see concepts, methods, and insights from the humanities integrated into public health research, publications, curricula, and practice.

Our aims

The network therefore aims to: 

  1. advocate for the importance of arts and humanities within public health research, education, and practice;
  2. identify and work to overcome the barriers that prevent the integration of arts and humanities approaches into public health;
  3. facilitate stronger connections amongst arts and humanities professionals involved in public health, and between arts and humanities scholars and the wider public health community.

We adopt a broad understanding of the humanities which includes (but is not limited to) history, human geography, languages and linguistics, law, literary studies, philosophy, and theology, as well as  the visual and performing arts. We also understand public health in broad terms, to include any collective organised efforts to prevent illness and promote health at population level. Anyone interested in the intersection of humanities and public health is welcome to join the network, irrespective of professional or disciplinary background.

You can find out about our events and activities, join our mailing list or get in touch via email: janet.weston@lshtm.ac.uk – we’d love to hear from you.

The network is funded by the Wellcome Trust, as part of the University Award ‘Ethics and British public health law 1920-2020’.

Who we are
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Organising Group
Dr Janet Weston

Janet
Weston

Associate Professor

Janet Weston (LSHTM) is a historian of health and law, and Director of the Centre for History in Public Health. She is the Public Health Humanities Network lead at LSHTM.

Amanda Caleb

Professor

Amanda Caleb is professor of medical humanities at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, Pennsylvania.

John Coggon

Professor

John Coggon is professor of law at the University of Bristol, researching the intersections of law, policy, and health, and ethics advisor to the World Health Organisation.

Hannah Elizabeth

Cultural Historian

Hannah Elizabeth is a cultural historian of sexuality, emotions, and childhood.

Allan González Estrada

Professor

Allan González Estrada is professor of philosophy and bioethics at Universidad Nactional Costa Rica.

Rebecca Garden

Associate Professor

Rebecca Garden is associate professor of public health at SUNY Upstate Medical University, with research expertise in literary studies and disability studies.

Thomas Hehlmann

Lecturer

Thomas Hehlmann is lecturer in public health and health literacy at the University of Bremen, developing the first health humanities course in Germany.

Adil Mohammed Javed

CEO and Artistic Director of Alchemy Arts

Adil Javed is CEO and Artistic Director of Alchemy Arts, a social enterprise aiming to empower communities through arts and creativity.

Haejoo Kim

Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature (Seoul National University)

Haejoo Kim is Assistant Professor of English Language and Literature at Seoul National University, with a focus on Victorian ‘alternative health’ practices and opposition to mainstream medicine.

Samia Latif

Public health consultant

Samia Latif is a public health consultant at the UK Health Security Agency, Assistant Academic Registrar at the UK Faculty of Public Health, and is passionate about promoting health through the arts. 

Gabriel Lawson

Research Associate

Gabriel Lawson is a Research Associate at the Policy Institute, King’s College London, working on policy relating to mental health. 

Conor Francis Macis

PhD candidate

Conor Macis is a PhD candidate in philosophy at the University of Bristol, working on global health law and antimicrobial resistance. 

Gareth Millward is a historian of health and welfare policy at the University of Southern Denmark.

Michelle Moncrieffe is a lecturer in the English Department at the University of Maryland, and leads the NAME Project which uses narrative research to address racism in dental care.

Manon Parry

Historian

Manon Parry is a historian of medicine at University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and an exhibition curator.

Savita Rani

Physician

Savita Rani is a physician training in public health and preventive medicine in Canada, with a personal visual arts and writing practice.

Mrs Harriet Ruysen

Harriet
Ruysen

Research Fellow

Hattie Ruysen is a midwife, researcher, and PhD candidate at LSHTM.

Lise Saffran

consultant and associate teaching professor

Lise Saffran is a consultant and associate teaching professor at the University of Missouri, with a background in public health and creative writing; narrative and storytelling.

Farhang Tahzib

Chair of UK Faculty of Public Health committee

Farhang Tahzib is the chair of UK Faculty of Public Health committee on ethics and law.

Carla Tsampiras

Senior Lecturer

Carla Tsampiras is a historian and Senior Lecturer in the Primary Health Care Directorate at the University of Cape Town.

Events
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Webinar: Arts and humanities for good public health

Tuesday 30 January 2024, 16.00-18.00 (UK time), online only.

In partnership with the UK Faculty of Public Health, we hosted a roundtable addressing the importance of the arts and humanities within public health education and training in January 2024.

Watch the recording below.

You can also review some of the resources mentioned in the discussion and online chat. 

Seminar series: Historical perspectives on ethics, morals, and values in public health

Running from April 2023 to April 2024, these seminars feature scholars from around the world tackling everything from the quarantining of slave ships to the moral economy of the NHS.

British health systems and their values in the late 20th / early 21st century

Wednesday 13 March 2024, 13.00-14.15 (UK time), online only.

Benjamin Hunter (University of Glasgow) will share his research on the moral making of the new 'global' NHS, 1997-2019, and the ideas and norms that came to govern its national-international boundaries. Paul Atkinson (University of Liverpool) will present ‘Tragic choices’: Which health care technologies should we fund and how should we decide? The National Institute for Clinical Excellence: a Contemporary History.

A Good Mother Enters the Clinic: How Dutch Preventive Child Health Care Ordered Everyday Lives, 1900-1940

Tuesday 23 April, time and place to be confirmed.

Noortje Jacobs and Martijn van der Meer (Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam) will discuss the new expectations that emerged in the early twentieth century, through the work of Dutch physicians and public health institutions, about the values associated with being a good citizen and moral mother.

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news about these and other events, straight to your inbox.

Past seminars

View details of our past seminars here and click through to find links to recordings (where applicable).

Networking for humanities scholars

We will be focusing on small working group activities during 2024: Find out more on our get involved page.

Join our mailing list to find out about other events and activities as soon as they are announced.

Resources
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Here you can find further reading on the humanities and health, and links to our partners and other groups with similar interests.

Further reading

Partners, friends of the network, and other groups and societies

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Public health humanities reading group

Are you interested in joining an online reading group, to discuss new or key texts and to meet other folks interested in public health and the humanities? If so, please get in touch: our semi-regular reading group will be starting in Spring 2024. To find out more, contact Conor Macis and Gabriel Lawson.

Teaching arts and humanities in public health: working groups

We have three small working groups developing an online resource library for arts and humanities education in public health. if you’re interested in this, please email Janet Weston

Humanities research with(in) public health

We’re planning a conference focusing on humanities research that engages with current public health research and practice. This is likely to take place in Europe in spring 2024: watch this space!

Humanities and public health - an exploratory workshop 

Online, Monday 22 May 2023

The network held its inaugural workshop online on Monday 22 May 2023.This workshop brought together humanities researchers whose work engages with the issues, problems, or methods of public health, to discuss two main themes: the integration of humanities disciplines into public health research and practice, and the role of the humanities in public and community engagement and involvement.

If you’d like to stay up to date with news of future activities and events, please join our mailing list!

Case studies
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Here you can find some examples of public health projects that include (and sometimes centre) humanities methods and approaches.

Re-authoring meat consumption narratives: combining historical, cultural and public health perspectives

This project is a collaboration between researchers from the Humanities, Social and Behavioural, and Medical faculties at the University of Amsterdam. It harnesses the diverging areas of expertise to understand the predominant role of meat in past and contemporary diets. 

Find out more about this project (see under ‘Midsize projects)

Distorted transmission: AIDS, minority stress and understanding Dutch male homosexual minorities’ collective past

This project examines how the self-appreciation of (male) homosexual minorities in the Netherlands has been shaped by the HIV/AIDS-crisis of the 1980s. Recent literature on ‘minority stress’ demonstrates high (and rising) levels of mental health issues and suicide attempts among LGBTQ+ people despite improving social conditions. Through archival research and interviews with long-time HIV/AIDS survivors, this project brings together researchers from history and sociology to investigate how the collective experience of HIV/AIDS has affected homosexual men’s self-appreciation from the 1980s to present.

Read more information on the Distorted transmission project.

Questioning Vaccination Discourse

This project applies corpus-based discourse analysis to discussions about vaccinations in the UK national press, parliamentary debates, and social media, to gain a better understanding of how the public sees and understands vaccination. It brings together a range of experts in linguistics in partnership with Public Health England, the UK Department of Health and Social Care, and Department of Digital Culture Media & Sport, to inform future public health campaigns.

Read more information on the Questioning Vaccination Discourse project.