Category Archives: A Critical Update

On the wagon, off the wagon

It turns out that I’m not very good at blogging. Its been months since my last post… more than seven to be exact. Shit.

Well, a lot has happened over these seven months:

  • My work with the Lancet Commission on Reframing NCDs and Injuries Amongst the Poorest Billion has resulted in some very interesting data and initial findings on how global health practitioners, senior scholars, and the American public frame noncommunicable diseases amongst the poorest people globally. Lots to dig into: we have survey data from nearly 900 respondents, 45 interviews that have been transcribed and initially coded, and data from a public opinion poll as well. I’m hoping to be able to try to write up some of these findings this summer and in the mean time, I may try to post some of my ideas here too over the coming weeks / months.14516472_696939647126689_8417982573106424996_n
  • I had a chance to travel to Rwanda to present my work with the NCDI Poverty Commission, and here are the slides. It was amazing to visit a country that I’ve read so much about and to have the chance to finally visit the PIH’s Butaro Hospital.
  • I started grad school at Boston University! It turns out being a grad student is both really hard and also very fun. Its liberating to have time and energy to focus on thinking about concepts, to read more deeply, to try to write more. I also am looking forward to getting started working on shaping my dissertation research. Right now, my classes are: classical social theory, sociological methods, social network analysis, and quantitative methods.

So now, maybe actually now, I will be able to keep up with some serious blogging about the work that I’m engaging in, the ideas I’m encountering, and can use this as a space to further this critical dialogue. We shall see.

Long time, no post

Despite my best attempts, I fell off the blog bus over the last couple of months. Oh well; it’s been a hectic, challenging, and at times emotional transition out of my day-to-day role with Partners In Health and into the world of academic research. But, I’ve also had a great time officially transitioning into my work as a research assistant with the Lancet Commission on NCDIs and Poverty.

The work with the Lancet Commission is progressing well. We are about ready to submit our IRB application (yikes…) for a study that includes a large scale survey of undergraduate and graduate students interested in or currently studying global health along with a semi-structured interviews with key faculty, administrators, student-organization leaders, and activists.

Building off of some of the theoretical work considered earlier, we seek to answer three interrelated questions:

  1. What are the primary factors motivating students to choose to study global health?
  2. What types of formal academic programs, student-driven organizations, and other global health activities are emerging to meet this demand?
  3. What opportunities do these programs, organizations, networks present for future collective action?

More on this research plan soon.

Additionally, the Tufts course, “The Right to Health: Problems, Perspectives, and Progress” is coming to a close next week! It’s hard to believe how quickly a semester goes. But, it was a great time and huge honor to get to participate in developing and leading this course with a group of 13 amazing Tufts undergraduate students and Prof. Fernando Ona. I’m looking forward to writing some synthesis / debrief posts soon.

Now that I’ve gotten settled into the work with the Commission and that the semester is ending, I plan to devote more time to this space.

Lots more to come!

Joining Boston University’s Ph.D. program in sociology this fall!


I’m excited to announce that I’ll be starting my Ph.D. in sociology at Boston University this fall! I’m hoping to take my experiences working with global health organizations and building grassroots campaigns and utilize the tools of empirical sociology to understand the emergence of a right to health movement. My goal is to use this study to learn something about how global health has changed over the last couple of decades, but also (and more importantly) how we can hasten change in the decades to come.

Specifically, I’ll hopefully have the chance to work closely with Prof. Joseph Harris who has spent significant time living and working in Thailand to study the movement and political process that led to the creation of a highly successful universal health coverage system in that country. I’m also looking forward to working with scholars interested in field theory and Bourdieu and hopefully getting to contribute to the Political Power and Social Theory journal, which is based out of BU.

I’m excited for this next step in my career and in this work!

Relaunching for 2016

It’s been a very long time (more than two years!) since I’ve spent time writing / working on this website, and I’ve decided that this is as good of a time as any to start to do some more writing and reflection. Specifically, there are a couple of new opportunities that I’m excited to engage in a bit of a broader dialogue around.

First, I’ll be co-teaching a class this spring (starts Thursday!) at Tufts University titled “The Right to Health: Problems, Perspectives, and Progress”. Take a look at the syllabus here. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience from the course and trying to process what I learn along the way. I’m certain that I’ll learn as much, and probably much more, than the students.

Second, I’ll be working as a research assistant with the upcoming Lancet Commission on Reframing NCDs and Injuries for the Poorest Billion. Through the history and advocacy working group, we hope to:

  1. Clearly define a social theoretical framework through which to analyze and interpret the history and current position of the NCDI poverty field
  2. Develop a historical perspective on the construction of the NCDs as a field of strategic action
  3. Situate the NCDI poverty field in the current mix of competing global health priorities, frames, and initiatives
  4. Shape the strategy for the Commission’s key messages and audiences

And finally, of course, I’ll continue to work alongside the PIH Engage team as it continues to grow and build the capacity for grassroots advocacy and fundraising within Partners In Health.

So, I’ve got lots of moving pieces and exciting endeavors and I hope that this can be a useful forum to continue to push forward my own thinking on global health, social movements, and social theory.

Back on the blog

So, I’m now realizing that it is quite challenging to maintain a blog that has some substance while also working a much more than full time job…

Yep, I’ve fallen off the wagon a bit. No excuses. I’m hopeful however, that I’ll be able to get some good content from a variety of sources up over the next couple of weeks. Some things that we’ll be discussing:

  1. The book “When People Come First: Critical Studies in Global Health”. I’m finishing up a deep dive into this fantastic book and hope to share a bit of a review and thoughts about how it connects to right to health movement building.
  2. NCDs. I’m hoping to have a couple of good friends write some posts that will survey how non-communicable diseases are expanding both epidemiologically and rhetorically in the field of global health and will look at a particular example in Peru for how NCD care can be wrapped up into primary care delivery.
  3. Updates from the PIH | Engage Campaign. We’ve made some good progress on both the fundraising and advocacy fronts and have learned a lot about how this collective movement building work can be done better. We’re excited by what all of this means for our plans for next year.
  4. More analysis on the ‘university engagement in global health research’. We are excited to merge an understanding of the growth of formal academic programs as well as extracurricular student organizations – both national and unaffiliated.

So, stay tuned for what I hope to be an interesting and productive conversation!


More on the purpose of this blog

This blog is primarily self-serving. Hopefully it gives me a chance to, in real time, reflect on what I’m reading, experiencing, and thinking about. My strategy with this blog is to begin to construct for myself a deeper set of ideas, theories, and strategies that could be relevant in health and human rights work.

Some things that I hope to work through with this blog:

  1. Social Movement Theory: I will explore social movement theory, and explore its relationship and applicability to the so-called ‘movement for health as a human right’ / ‘movement for global health equity.’
  2. Community Organizing: I will analyze explore grassroots organizing initiatives and the practical organizational/leadership/training/campaign-building programs, including the one that I work on full time. The goal is to connect this practical organizational/strategy/implementation work to broader scholarship and theory.
  3. Global Health Advocacy: I will read and research current issues within the global health advocacy space, and hope to discern good opportunities of political advocacy action.
  4. Random Reading and Cool Shit: I will also try to distill, summarize, and integrate the reading I’m doing across a variety of genres: fiction literature, sociology, political science, economics, global health. I also like to find cool shit on the internet and elsewhere and hope to share it here.

Ultimately, I want to attend graduate school and work on a PhD that sits at the intersection of sociology, political economy, health policy, and global health delivery. And, this blog is definitely linked to that hope.  I want to work on serious research that advances our ideas about how to best enable the right to health to be realized. I believe that there is a need and a space for more scholarship – linked to real world organizational work – to make it possible. Hopefully, this will be a place for me to push my own thinking, engage in conversation with other folks who care about this stuff, and also hone my writing.

Launching a new project

Starting a new blog is something that sounds thoroughly 2002. Something I might have (and actually did) as an over-confident freshman at Northwestern, working to start nerdly semi-flame wars with bloggers interested arcane debates on global health and international development.

My purpose here is less outward, and hopefully, much more inwardly looking than it would have been a decade ago. My hope is that this can serve simply as a place to focus in on some of the challenges that I see currently in my work and life, explore what it means to engage critically in a world marked by massive inequity, and hone some of my own writing and critical thinking chops.

I’m looking forward to getting started soon.