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Your Environment. Your Health.

Using Ethnographies and Oral Histories to Address Environmental Public Health Issues

Partnerships for Environmental Public Health (PEPH)

May 22, 2019


In this webinar, we heard from two projects that are working with their community partners to collect oral histories about historical environmental exposures and their lived experience. The teams are analyzing the stories to better understand the complexities of how people perceive environmental risks and to inform public health action.



Brittany Fremion, Ph.D.

Brittany Fremion, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of history at Central Michigan University. She is an environmental and U.S. historian by training, with special interests and expertise in oral history and public history. Her research has focused on the intersection of gender, race, and class in twentieth-century environmental initiatives and grassroots movements in the American Midwest. In 2018, she developed the Michigan PBB Oral History Project in collaboration with community members, research partners at Emory University and the University of Michigan, and the Museum of Cultural and Natural History at Central Michigan University.

Michele Marcus, Ph.D.

Michele Marcus, Ph.D., is a professor of epidemiology, environmental health, and pediatrics at Emory University. She has over 20 years of experience conducting large epidemiologic cohort studies and has researched the health consequences of various exposures, including psychosocial stress, PCBs, PBBs, PFCs, and electromagnetic fields.

Amy Schulz, Ph.D.

Amy Schulz, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. Her research is conducted collaboratively with community partners, using a community-based participatory research approach. Areas of research include social determinants of health; independent and joint contributions of social and physical environmental factors to health; and the participatory design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions designed to promote environmental health and health equity in urban

Frances Barg, Ph.D.

Frances Barg, Ph.D., is a medical anthropologist, a professor of family medicine and community health at the University of Pennsylvania, and a co-director of the Community Engagement Core at Penn’s Superfund Research Program. She collaborates on mixed methods and qualitative research with interdisciplinary teams across Penn and has used qualitative methods to identify patient perceptions about a wide variety of topics, including emergency contraception, ADHD treatment, and depression among older adults. The materials she will be discussing during the webinar were developed under a Science Education Partnership Award from the NIH.

Britt Dahlberg, Ph.D.

Britt Dahlberg, Ph.D., is director of the Center for Applied History at the Science History Institute, where she leads a multidisciplinary public research program exploring the social practice and impact of science, health care, and technology. She and her team explore and develop new modes of public engagement that grow out of methods and materials from history and anthropology in order to foster inquiry and dialogue on science in society. Dahlberg’s research and writing center on the anthropology of science and health care, with a focus on environmental risk, race, class, and the making of public space in the contemporary United States.

For More Information

Clapp JT, Roberts JA, Dahlberg B, Berry LS, Jacobs LM, Emmett EA, Barg FK. 2016. Realities of environmental toxicity and their ramifications for community engagement. Soc Sci Med 170:143-151. [Full Text Clapp JT, Roberts JA, Dahlberg B, Berry LS, Jacobs LM, Emmett EA, Barg FK. 2016. Realities of environmental toxicity and their ramifications for community engagement. Soc Sci Med 170:143-151.] 

Resources for Education and Action for Community Health in Ambler (REACH Ambler)
REACH Ambler explores the history, environmental health, and community identity of Ambler, Pennsylvania, through a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Medicine and the Science History Institute.

Creating Narrative Podcasts with Oral Histories (Science History Institute)
This workshop, scheduled for June 27, 2019, in Philadelphia, will teach skills useful for students, teachers, researchers, oral history practitioners, and a variety of jobs in academic and public organizations.

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