Center for Global Health

Annual Theme

Each year our center pushes forward one ground-breaking and important theme that we believe can help reimagine, reinvent and expand the impact of global health. We also innovate by favoring themes that can take what we have already learned in global health to help reimagine other areas of knowledge production and application. 

To move us forward, each year we work with expert collaborators on that theme as our intellectual lead. Together we develop a cutting-edge workshop and select our keynote speaker, identify gaps in skills we can address through training, design signature projects(s), and engage faculty and students from across campus in thinking about how they might join in to advance the specific challenge raised. If you have ideas for future annual themes, contact Center Director Amber Wutich.

2024-2025 Theme: Science Reasoning & Literacy in Health Decisions

Expert lead: Decision Scientist and CGH affiliate Caitlin Otten

Every day, people make myriad important health decisions: Should I drink tap water? Should I get a vaccine? Should I avoid eating genetically modified food? Our annual theme for 2024-25, led by decision scientist Dr. Caitlin Otten, recognizes these decisions are being made in an increasingly complex and often confusing world. Our goal is developing and testing new models to understand how people make sense of scientific evidence as they navigate their most personal health decisions. 

2023-24 Theme: Sex and Gender: Transforming Global Health Practice

Expert lead: Human Biologist and CGH affiliate Zachary DuBois

Almost all global health research includes consideration of gender or sex in one way or another, whether a focus of research or just a means to organize data.  In collaboration with the Ernst Strüngmann Forum and the Human Biology Association our 2023-24 theme is concerned with identifying and disseminating the best current thinking about how to deploy the concepts of gender, sex, and gender/sex across all domains of research, but with a particular focus on using these innovation to advance global health justice. 

2022-23 Theme: Familial Context & Care: Embodied Experiences of Disruption, Distance, and Duty

Expert lead: Anthropologist Robin Nelson

The 2022-23 annual theme explores the ways that our most foundational and primary evolutionary human relationships, those between children and their extended familial care networks, both impact and are influenced by an ever-changing contemporary world. Under the lead of biological anthropologist, Robin Nelson, a global health faculty member in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, we explore the ways that families have identified and strengthened the most helpful relationships and navigated the difficult ones to thrive in challenging social moments and environmental contexts.

2021-22 Theme: Deep History and Community Joy

Expert lead: Archaeologist Kathryn Ranhorn

In working on post-COVID lives, it seemed fitting that our 2021-22 annual theme would embrace how we can advance the most positive aspects of human wellbeing – joy, connection, purpose and meaning. Under the lead of archaeologist Kathryn Ranhorn of ASU’s world-renowned Institute of Human Origins, and by connecting our expertise in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change on human origins and human dimensions of health, we are identifying, developing, and testing new and innovative models of how co-created knowledge of human deep history can enhance community wellbeing.

2020-21 Theme: COVID Complexities

Expert lead: Epidemiologist Megan Jehn

Megan Jehn provides leadership in Arizona's COVID-19 modeling, case investigations, contact tracing, supply delivery and needs assessment. Following Jehn's expert lead, we had all CGH faculty helping move forward important work on COVID-19. We leveraged what we learned from our annual themes over the last four years (stigma, citizen science, water insecurity and food insecurity). This work included developing policy recommendations, writing commentaries, doing research, and developing and offering virtual training workshops related to the prevention and treatment of suffering related to the ongoing global pandemic.

2019-20 Theme: The Complexities of Food Security

Expert lead: Nutritionist Meg Bruening

Under the intellectual lead of nutritionist Meg Bruening, this year we are developing and testing new approaches unraveling the complex causes and consequences of food insecurity. We are doing this in an array of locations, from close to home on the ASU campus where food security is a known challenge for our students, to eastern Ethiopia where we are testing how the effects of food insecurity on illness intersect with and are worsened by other resource shortages. The overarching purpose is to understand how food insecurity relates directly or indirectly to many other dimensions of well-being beyond nutrition itself, including social well-being, educational attainment, mental health, child growth and household resilience.

2018-19 Theme: Citizen Social Science and Global Health

Expert lead: Linguist Cindi SturtzSreetharan

Citizen Social Science is about non-experts working with experts to make our global health action bigger, bolder and more relevant. Citizen science is increasingly used to help scale hard science research, but we believe it has untapped potential to revolutionize how we can bring social science into global health research and its application. In 2018-19 we identified and tested new strategies for citizen social sciences, scaling our ability to research and address the social dimensions of health. A signature project examined how health-relevant discrimination is communicated in conversation and in the shape of public spaces, using Maricopa County as our test bed. The team included 181 Arizona citizens, 40 undergraduate students, five faculty, and two graduate students. You can read about some of the early results of that work here.

2017-18 Theme: Water Sharing: Global Perspectives, Local Challenges

Cooperation and sharing is an important part of how humans create healthy communities. In 2017-18 the center led an international effort to define a new field of study around water sharing practices. Using data collected by an array of international collaborators at 27 sites globally, we have been able to show that water sharing is truly widespread globally as a means to deal with water shortages, and most sharing is charitable. We have also been able to identify through our collaborative work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria that water sharing is a response to institutional failures as much as climatic ones, and to show that such sharing systems tends to pull hardest on those with least. This means the results of water sharing systems are uneven, and may have negative health effects on the most vulnerable within communities.

2016-17 Theme: Stigma as a Driver of the Global Obesity Epidemic

In collaboration with Mayo Clinic-ASU Obesity Solutions, we brought together some of the top researchers from an array of fields to better identify how cultural ideas that devalue large bodies may ultimately worsen physical and mental health. By identifying core theories about how stigma experiences link to weight gain, we are able to explain to policy-makers why anti-obesity efforts – if improperly designed – can actually make it harder for people to lose weight. We have were able to clarify that weight stigma is a truly global phenomena, negatively billions globally, and identified some solutions that can be implemented.