The United States faces substantial social and economic health and health care disparities, as identified in numerous studies by such organizations as the Center for Disease Control, the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Public Health Association. Confronting and rectifying these disparities requires interdisciplinary and collaborative research across a diverse array of organizations, including universities, community alliances, and healthcare organizations.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has identified health research as a critical area for investment, and is working with faculty to build new infrastructures in data sharing (the Institute for Social Capital), community partnerships (e.g., the Academy for Population Health Innovation and the Integrated Network for Social Sustainability), and competitive graduate programs (e.g., Health Psychology, Public Health Sciences, and Health Services Research).
UNC Charlotte’s Social Aspects of Health Initiative (SAHI) is designed explicitly to identify and address health inequities in urban regions. Building upon a strong and growing cadre of health researchers across the university, and especially in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services, SAHI focuses on social, institutional and environmental contexts, as well as policies and practices that contribute to equitable health care provision, health outcomes, and quality of life.
The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is strengthening its already robust social science expertise in health research through a cluster hire of four faculty members in the departments of Anthropology, Geography and Earth Sciences, Psychological Science, and Sociology. These new hires will join current faculty in developing extramurally-supported research to expand SAHI, support community partnerships, and disseminate its contributions. For more information, see: New Faculty Positions.
This initiative has particular salience in the Charlotte community, which is taking steps to address significant social challenges stemming from limited social and economic mobility among its residents (see: Leading on Opportunity). Ultimately, SAHI intends to strengthen the University’s collective research efforts in order to illuminate the causes and consequences of health inequities and the responses that communities, and the greater Charlotte community in particular, can use to build a more equitably healthy society.