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Dean’s Seminar Series opens with discussion on public health and mass incarceration

On Friday, Oct. 27, Robert Fullilove, associate dean for community and minority affairs and professor of clinical sociomedical sciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, delivered the inaugural lecture in the Dean’s Seminar Series in Ritter Hall’s Walk Auditorium. Formed in recognition of the College’s recent accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health, the series brings internationally renowned scholars and practitioners to campus for discussions on pressing issues facing an ever-expanding field of public health.

In addition to his roles at Columbia, Fullilove is co-director of the Cities Research Group, an interdisciplinary research program that examines the impact of the built environment on health. Since 2010, he also has served as senior advisor and taught public health courses in six New York State prisons that are part of the Bard Prison Initiative (BPI), a program offering degrees to incarcerated persons.

“Dr. Fullilove’s work shows that in order to address the most significant injustices and health disparities in our country, we must incorporate the wisdom of those outside of traditional academia as well as those within it,” said College of Public Health Dean and Laura H. Carnell Professor Laura A. Siminoff. “His vision for a healthier society and his principles of community involvement align with our own priorities.”

In his lecture, Fullilove spoke on the relationship between social determinants of health—factors such as race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and even the conditions of the neighborhood in which someone works or lives—and mass incarceration. As an example, he pointed to seven New York City neighborhoods that shared disproportionately high rates of HIV infection, diabetes deaths, poverty and incarceration.

Fullilove also discussed his work with BPI, which has reduced recidivism rates and improved post-prison outcomes for more than 400 incarcerated men and women. In 1999, Bard College began offering associate’s and bachelor’s degrees to those in six state prisons. Fullilove’s work with incarcerated persons has been featured on ABC and the New York Daily News, among other outlets.

“The question isn’t if we should have programs like this on the inside,” said Fullilove. “It’s how many, and what kind?”

Upcoming Dean’s Seminar Series Speakers

Dec. 1, 2017 / Dr. Margaret Rogers, chief staff officer for science and research at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

March 2, 2018 / Dr. James Rimmer, director of the Lakeshore Foundation/University of Alabama-Birmingham Research Collaborative

March 16, 2018 Dr. Sandro Galea, Robert A. Knox Professor and dean at the Boston University School of Public Health

For more information on the Dean’s Seminar Series, contact Natasha de Luna at natasha.deluna@temple.edu.

Posted:  October 27, 2017