Welcome to Public Health Post! This article is a brief introduction to the site, what we are trying to do, and how to find your way around. You can learn about the people behind the site (including our AMAZING graduate students) at the About Us page and get in touch with us on the Contact Us page.
Our goal is to facilitate an ideas-first dialogue around public health . We want Public Health Post – or PHP for short – to be a place for policymakers, their staff, and journalists to get ideas and evidence about public health policies. Ultimately, we hope the conversation filters up and contributes to the development of policies that improve health.
The other side of this is that PHP is a venue beyond peer-reviewed journals for scholars to share their work, allowing them to reach audiences outside academia. We also hope PHP will be a central gathering place for students interested in public health , a chance to learn who is who, what type of careers are possible, and how they can get involved.
Public Health Post is housed at Boston University and run by people at BU, but it is not exclusively about BU. We hope that policymakers, journalists, scholars, and students from around the country – and around the world—will write on PHP. Send me an email at email@example.com describing your work or with an idea of something you want to write about.
The analogy we have used throughout the development of this site is that we hope Public Health Post feels like a good dinner party. We will introduce you to interesting people and provocative ideas. We hope you will laugh and be inspired. We expect that you won’t agree with everything you read, and we hope you take the conversation to Twitter, sharing posts you like and challenging things you don’t. Most articles will have a few sentences pre-selected as Tweets. You can just click the highlighted text to automatically Tweet it out.
We designed the site so you won’t have to make many decisions when you arrive. All the content is on the home page in the order it was posted, like Twitter or a traditional blog. There are six types of articles. If you want to see just a certain type of article, click the menu button at the top right (the three lines) and select the category you are interested in.
* Viewpoint – External contributors and Public Health Post staff write on a public health issue from their own perspective. This could range from an op-ed to a personal reflection.
* Debate – A forum for discussing pressing public health issues from multiple points of view. Each debate has its own home page linking to the individual posts.
* Research – Policy implications of specific studies are examined, either written by Public Health Post staff or the scholars who did the work.
* Databyte – The section of Public Health Post devoted to cool charts and graphs. Our goal here is to use data to make a point, tell interesting stories, and capture important trends.
* News – Our take on current events with important implications for public health.
* Profile – We highlight interesting people working in different fields of public health.
We hope PHP feels like a good dinner party. We will introduce you to interesting people and provocative ideas. We hope you will laugh and be inspired. We expect that you won’t agree with everything you read.
Idaho, Mississippi, and Beyond
Two memories come to mind as I work on Public Health Post. The first is the opening day of the Idaho Legislature’s 2006 session. I was a new intern, recently arrived from New York City where I grew up. I had no idea what to expect as I walked up the stairs to the Capital Building for the first time. The session only lasted two and a half months but had a profound effect on me. I developed a love of state politics and policy that has become a major focus in my academic career.
More importantly, I learned to see issues from a very different point of view. The taken-for-granted assumptions about why something is a problem and how to fix it are often completely different in Boise and Manhattan. Even if I did not change my mind about many things, this realization helped me examine my own way of thinking and respect those who disagree with me. I hope that PHP can have the paradigm-shifting effect that living in Idaho had on me and that this will be a safe space for constructive dialogue.
The second memory is more recent. Earlier this year I was in Clarksdale, Mississippi doing research on the social determinants of health in the Delta. I met a teenage girl who had just had her second baby. She was coping remarkably well given the circumstances, but was stretched to the max.
Public health theories I had read in books came to life as I held her baby and he wrapped his hand around my finger. Yes, his health would be affected by decisions he would make throughout his life, but the range of options available to him are not great. His neighborhood is unsafe. The school system is struggling. Fresh food is hard to come by at the neighborhood grocery stores. He and his mom have health insurance through Medicaid but have limited access to high quality health care, especially primary and preventative care. The unemployment rate is high, meaning it will be hard for him to get a job. He is more likely because of his race and background to end up in prison.
Public Health Post is for him. All the stories, data, and research we will highlight are motivated by the goal of improving the conditions that create health. Context matters, but much of what is discussed on the site will be relevant in places as diverse as Boston, Mississippi, and Senegal.
Feature image: Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce – Idaho State Capital in Evening, used under CC BY 2.0