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Culture, Health and Environment Lab


The Culture, Health and Environment Laboratory (CHEL) conducts field-based studies around the globe to determine how cultural knowledge helps people recognize and respond to complex health and environmental challenges.

Our projects currently focus on two massive and growing problems that affect millions: obesity and water insecurity. We are especially interested in how poverty and other forms of social inequality complicate effective solutions.
based studies around the globe to determine how cultural knowledge helps people recognize and respond to complex health and environmental challenges.



Global Ethnohydrology Study

A multi-year transdisciplinary project using data collected with local communities around the globe. The goal is to test how local knowledge both supports and inhibits coping with the everyday challenges of climate changes, such as getting enough safe water. We are especially interested in the health and psychological impacts of that struggle, such as a trigger for depression.

Small World/Big Bodies

Using comparative studies from communities throughout the globe, we are looking at why stigma around obesity is so profound even as obesity rates continue to rise, how that stigma perpetuates obesity, who is most damaged by it and, ultimately, how to fix it. 

Global Impact Collaboratory

The focus of the Global Impact Collaboratory is to figure out how we know when development projects are actually “working” from the perspectives of the people on the ground they are meant to be helping. 

Science of Water Art

A collaborative citizen science and research project involving professionals, community members, college students and children, providing insights into how Arizona youth view the vital resource of water as they share perceptions of climate change and water insecurity through art.

Post-Bariatric Lives

A longitudinal ethnographic and survey study of how people’s changing social and emotional lives interact with their weight loss trajectories in the years following bariatric surgery, since 2013 (with Mayo Clinic).






To join our lab as an undergraduate, please apply to the School of Human Evolution and Social Change Research Apprenticeship Program.

Guidelines for Collaboration >  



Location: Room 265, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


News & Events

FEBRUARY 2014  Brewis Slade joins OKED leadership

NOVEMBER 2013  Wutich named Arizona Professor of the Year

OCTOBER 2013  Global health student explores myriad of opportunities at ASU   

JUNE 2013  President's Professor finds stigma of obesity spreading around globe

APRIL 2013  Undergrad works to engage others in global health solutions  


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