Historian addresses need for deep, global perspective on human health

June 16, 2011

As a historian of medicine, Monica Green studies the literal ills of society. Her scope of research is wide and deep, covering diverse eras and subjects, from Europe’s bubonic plague pandemic to the modern scourge of AIDS.

Later this month the professor in Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies will travel to London to present the opening plenary address for the http://www.history.ac.uk/aac2011" target="_blank">Institute of Historical Research’s 80th Anglo-American Conference of Historians. This year’s theme is health and history, a topic seemingly custom created for Green, who is also affiliated faculty in the Global Health program of the School of Human Evolution and Social Change in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Ancient manuscript Download Full Image

At the conference, Green will discuss her interpretive framework for the global history of health and how it can be used by a range of historians to shape a more comprehensive view of the subject.

Green promotes the study of long-term history as an important part of understanding how diseases arise, spread and are viewed and treated. Although many scholars involved in health policy see only recent history as relevant to current health challenges, Green suggests that manifestations of ill health often have roots extending back many generations.

“Humans have been ‘global’ for millennia and ‘emerging diseases’ are not a new phenomenon,” she explained. “What a ‘deep history’ of health can offer is a sense of scope and a sense of scale. It offers a sense that we are part of a larger narrative whose trajectory we can only partially direct.”

While diseases like bubonic plague and leprosy are not the nemeses they once were, they are still with us. Meanwhile other ancient health problems have evolved into new forms of old enemies, like drug-resistant tuberculosis. Green proposes that fuller views of diseases and approaches to combating them must be considered.

“Eradication of ancient diseases, if ever to be achieved, will have to involve more environmental and behavioral changes than drug development,” she said.

Green emphasizes that many factors – from economic to cultural – influence human health and, as a result, views transdisciplinary collaboration as the key to deeper insight into where humans have been, where they are now and where they are headed, in terms of health and wellness.

She recently teamed with ASU bioarchaeologist Rachel Scott to develop the “Global History of Health” cornerstone course of the Global Health program. Green is looking forward to future collaborations with Scott and other School of Human Evolution and Social Change faculty and is excited by the potential outcomes of research that melds historical records and new technologies, particularly genomics.

“The work that Anne Stone, Jane Buikstra and Luz-Andrea Pfister are doing on TB and leprosy is simply tremendously potent for integration with historical analysis, and that’s where I see the most future possibilities,” Green enthused.

Green teaches a variety of classes, including “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Women’s Health” and “Race and Medicine.” She has published extensively and has received fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, All Souls College at Oxford and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Rebecca Howe

Communications Specialist, School of Human Evolution and Social Change


Regents approve contract extension for Michael Crow

June 16, 2011

Crow’s appointment extended through June 2017

Today at its regular meeting, the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) authorized a contract extension for ASU President Michael M. Crow, extending the term of the multiple-year employment agreement from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2017. His current appointment term is July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2012. Download Full Image

“Under Dr. Crow’s visionary leadership, ASU has not only grown to be the largest public university in the country, but has also achieved widespread recognition as one of the nation’s most innovative and productive,” said Anne Mariucci, chairman of the Board of Regents. “We are thrilled to have the continuity of his leadership for the university.”

Crow’s contract extension does not include any additional compensation beyond that provided in his current contract.  Performance expectations for Crow will reference performance goals, such as the Arizona Higher Education Enterprise Plan metrics, adopted by the board.

Michael M. Crow became the 16th president of ASU on July 1, 2002. During his tenure, he has guided the transformation of ASU into one of the nation’s leading public metropolitan research universities, an institution that combines the highest levels of academic excellence, inclusiveness to a broad demographic, and maximum societal impact – a model he terms the “New American University.”

"I'm very appreciative of the confidence the Arizona Board of Regents has shown in me with this contract extension," Crow said. "Nine years ago we began the transformation of ASU into the New American University with the launching of our first 10-year plan. This new model for a public research university is a work in progress, and I look forward to the launching of the second phase of our long range plan for ASU as we approach the 10th anniversary of the New American University a year and half from now."

Britt Lewis

Communications Specialist, ASU Library