Expertise and experience:
1. Advising and mentoring Amherst College students and young alumni who seek to explore and pursue careers in health.
2. Teaching (until December 2010 at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and as adjunct lecturer at UMassAmherst School of Public Health), mentoring, advising, dialogue, organizing, advocating, and experience to learn, practice, and pursue health in all its dimesnions. Has included courses on health disparities, and cultural and linguistic competence,
internships, independent study, research, seminars to build leadership capacity of young people and future public health work force.
Synthesizing research on social determinants of health, resilience, traumatic childhood experiences, racism, chronic stress, and conditions for productive dialogue that will have a significant impact on future public health practice.
3. Translating this research into humane MCH and public health practice to improve the health of women and children, with systems that honor families, communities, and cultures.
4. Integrating cultural understanding and respect as a key strategy to end health disparities.
5. Changing the language of public health and medicine to better reflect our ideals and purpose.
6. Bringing multiple stakeholders together to untangle complex public health challenges and take collaborative action to solve them.

1. Inspiring a new generation of leaders in public health and service through a wide range of local, national, and global opportunities.
Until January 2011, consultation to individuals, communities, organizations to build capacity in the above, by
a) Inspiring keynotes, presentations, workshops.
b) Organizing forums to build essential but previously unlikely partnerships.
c) Serving as catalyst for intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue.
c) Writing papers and grants.
3. Organization and facilitation of interactive meetings with broad stakeholder participation to unite diverse parties and spark action to create public health equity.

For more information, contact:

"A smile is the light in the window of your face, which tells people that your heart is at home."
- Kolawole Bankole, M.D, M.S

Friday, January 30, 2009

Public Health Collaborative Meeting at Amherst College

On Saturday, January 24, 2009, we had an amazing and powerful all-day gathering at Amherst College (Amherst, Massachusetts, USA) of 50 people that included Amherst College (and several University of Massachusetts) students, faculty and staff, alums, and community partners. Using the model of Future Search (, we had an inspired dynamic action-oriented conversation and dialogue about public health that resulted in the formation of a new public health collaborative at Amherst that, while having its own unique identity, will at the same time join with a currently existing undergraduate group at the University of Massachusetts. The purpose of the collaborative is to establish a long-term presence of public health on the Amherst campus. It will have community engagement and partnerships (existing and new) at its core, promote opportunities in a variety of settings for students to learn about and practice public health and the reduction of health disparities (including those opportunities that already exist compiled in a data base), serve as a catalyst for student activism and leadership for campus-based and community wide public health issues, and provide multiple opportunities for in-depth mentoring for those who want to pursue public health after college. The underlying philosophy is that public health is, in an inter-disciplinary way, a legitimate academic subject for study at the undergraduate level, and that public health is a noble and highly diverse profession that is rooted in the pursuit of social justice, equity, peace, cultural respect, and healing as the foundation for creating conditions for people and communities and society to have the full equal opportunity to thrive in mind, body, and spirit. I am so excited about this!
A planning group of six people that included three students – Jodie Simms ‘09, Annah Kuriakose ‘09, Lili Ferguson ‘10-, one faculty (Prof. Chris Dole), and a facilitator, Alice Leibowitz) did a stellar job in clarifying the purpose of the day, reaching out to multiple stakeholders, and applying the Future Search model. Thanks also go to Documenter Danielle Griffin ’09 and our sponsors: Center for Community Engagement, Career Center, Dean of the Faculty, Dean of Student Affairs, Class of 1969 Project, and Humane Worlds Center for Maternal and Child Health. By all accounts, the gathering was unique and innovative and refreshingly inter-generational, building on the resources and strengths that already exist on the Amherst and University of Massachusetts campuses (we had hoped to involve all Five College in the area, but that will happen later). For many students, it gave them a much stronger sense of what public health is all about and a commitment to become involved in the new collaborative. For alums, it provided a new vehicle for them to become engaged in campus life and inspire students to believe more fully in their idealism and passion for public service. For community partners, it demonstrated that we were serious in involving them from the start as truly equal partners whose participation in a mutually beneficial way is absolutely essential to the success of this effort. More information about the event itself will be forthcoming.

Dick Aronson '69

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Humane Worlds Center Student Opportunities 2009

Humane Worlds Center in Action January 2009

We are pleased to announce that we offer an array of exciting opportunities for students at all levels (undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate) to become involved in the Humane Worlds Center! At the end of each section, see “Student Role”. Get in touch with us (207 215 7317 or if you'd like to join : as an elective, internship, independent study, or other way.


There is a large and unconscionable disparity in the rate at which African American and white babies die in the United States. In Wisconsin, black babies are four times more likely to die during their first year of life. To help address this, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health hired the Center’s founder and director, Richard Aronson, M.D., M.P.H., to review the research and promising practices on birth outcome disparities, and make recommendations for a special initiative by the University. Read his report at and a presentation that he gave at a Wingspread Conference held in May 2008, at

Student Role: Join future efforts to create equity in birth outcomes across racial, ethnic, economic, social, and other boundaries.


Extraordinary intergenerational dialogue between young and old public health leaders took place at a unique Maternal and Child Health Leadership Retreat in July 2008 organized by the MCH Program at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Public Health. ( A workshop given by Dr. Aronson and Sheri Johnson, “Practical Skills for MCH Leaders to Create Humane and Equitable Worlds”, and his presentation at the concluding session, “MCH Leadership Stories”, were instrumental in inspiring the dialogue.

Student Role: Be part of exciting future efforts to foster such dialogue in a variety of settings.


Mentoring college students interested in public health is central to the purpose of the Humane Worlds Center. Such mentoring provides the seeds for a lifetime of leadership and service to make the world more just, a necessary prerequisite for people to be healthy.

The Amherst College Class of 1969 Project, started in 2006 by Justin Grimes ( , has the purpose of inspiring students at Amherst and beyond to put their ideals into practice in careers of public service and leadership. As part of the Class of 1969 Project, Dr. Aronson organized a public service panel and mentoring that took place on March 28 and 29, 2008, at the Amherst College Career Center. Four Class of 1969 alumni, including Dr. Aronson, took part. Dr. Aronson mentored, in individual sessions following the panel, a dozen Amherst students interested in public health careers, and has continued contact with them. This was a successful and inspiring event. Below are words from some the students who took part in Dr. Aronson’s mentoring sessions:

“I am extremely grateful for all the advice and help that you gave me, both in terms of deciding what I wanted to do with my future, and also in terms of putting me in contact with people who could help me along the way. My final semester at Amherst I had so many ideas about what I was interested in and how I might want to make a difference, but I needed help in moving forward and focusing my dreams into something concrete. I believe that speaking with you helped me solidify my goals, and bring me to where I am right now. Based on our own discussions, and all the resources that you were able to offer me, I was inspired to contribute what little I could as well. I have been in contact with the Career Center and the Center for Community Engagement (about informing current Amherst students interested in public health about the organization that I'm working with, and the internship opportunities that we provide … Our mentoring session made a real difference in my life…”
“Looking back, I'm confident that the Amherst healthcare panel and meeting with you will be one of the most important events in my undergraduate life- if only because I finally learned that people have, and therefore CAN accomplish the goals we set for our communities when enough caring and open-minded people sit down together and try to work with one another.”
“Thank you so much for all your help, it has opened up so many new avenues for me.”
Jodie Simms and Annah Kuriakose, Amherst College Class of 2009, worked with Dr. Aronson in the fall of 2008 to organize an expanded panel, dialogue, and mentoring on public health as a career, that took place on December 5, 2008, at Amherst’s Career Center. Thirty five students turned out to join a dynamic conversation with five alumni and one faculty member.
Student Role: Be part of organizing similar efforts at Amherst and expanding it to other colleges in the United States and throughout the world.


Richard Aronson has given a number of presentations with Burt Richardson MD on the ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study, a powerful study that links traumatic childhood experiences – including various forms of abuse and neglect, domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse in the household, incarcerated parent, and parental separation or loss – with adult health, metal and physical. The presentation also synthesizes the research of Emmy Werner and others on resilience, which offers a framework for preventing such traumatic experiences and promoting healing from them. Click here for slides.

Student Role: Help to prepare and give similar presentations, and lay the foundation for translating this research into action at the community and policy levels.


Humane Worlds Center is providing consultation to help organize and facilitate a Future Search Conference ( on home births in the United States. It will be a multi-disciplinary consensus conference of key stakeholders around the provision of home birth services in the United States, to be convened by the University of California San Francisco and various organizations, including the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Association of Certified Nurse Midwives, Mothers and Midwives Associated, Lamaze International, Association of Women Hospital Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, and the International Center for Traditional Childbirth. Further, it is hoped that public health practitioners and students, insurers, government agencies, health economists, medical anthropologists, state and national legislators, and women who have given birth will be among the eventual participants. The purpose of the conference is to start to bridge the "divide" between the medical and midwife communities over out-of-hospital births in the United States. Safety of birth in any setting is of utmost priority. Rights to choice and self-determination and culturally appropriate healing are also core values in American discourse that influence this issue. The purpose of this multidisciplinary conference of key stakeholders will be to craft a consensus policy and strategy on provision of home birth services. The project may also inform regulatory discourse, alternative funding structures, and the required modifications of curricula to prepare physicians and midwives in urban, rural and remote settings to provide maternity services across birth settings.
Student Role: Help to organize this conference and other Future Search Conferences, including possible conferences on MCH in South Africa and on maternal addiction in Maine.


Humane Worlds Center, including Jodie Simms, Annah Kuriakose, and Elizabeth Ferguson – has combined with the Amherst College Career Center, Center for Community Engagement, Class of 1969 Project, and Dean of the Faculty to hold an exciting event at Amherst on January 24, 2009:
Public Health and Amherst College:
Establishing a Public Health Collaborative Group on Campus that Has Community Partnerships as its Foundation
The goal is to establish an ongoing student-led public health presence on campus that has local community partnerships as its foundation. To that end, the January 24meeting will be devoted to an exploration of: What is public health? What are the key public health issues at Amherst College? How can Amherst students strengthen their capacity to work in true partnership with communities? What does it mean to work in a spirit of collaboration with families and communities? The January 24, 2009, meeting will focus on strategies, both at Amherst and beyond, needed to equip students with the capacity to:

1) Change how we think about public health to embrace every facet of our lives;
2) Create forums for dialogue that lead to effective action on local and global health inequities; and
3) Humanize and dignify the services and policies that relate to public health.

The web link on the Amherst web site is:

The planning for the January 24 event reflects a commitment to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders from Amherst, surrounding communities, and public health in a spirit of collaboration and respect for each other’s voice and unique contribution. We will use Future Search principles to guide our meeting.

Future Search ( is a unique planning method, which has been used with notable success in many of the world’s cultures, and which I have had the privilege and opportunity to practice for the past 15 years in the world of public health. This approach unites people from diverse walks of life, gives them a voice in shaping humane systems, and lays the foundation for action to create healthy communities. What differentiates Future Search from most strategic planning methods are its four principles, synthesized by Weisbord and Janoff from 75 years of social science research:
 Get the “whole system” in the room—those with authority, resources, expertise, information, and need—all in the same conversation.
 Explore the whole before seeking to fix any part. Each person has a part of the whole. When all stakeholders have the chance to put in what they know, each has a picture that none had coming in, and they can plan together in a shared context.
 Put common ground and future action front and center. Problems and conflicts become information to be shared, not action items.
 Set up meetings so people can do the work for themselves. With self-management and personal responsibility encouraged, groups are capable of doing much more than they are usually asked to do.

To learn more about this event or to register for it, contact Jodie Simms,, or Annah Kuriakose,

Student Role: Be involved in the follow-up to this conference and help organize other such conferences throughout the world.


Humane Worlds Center presented the keynote address at a Statewide Child Abuse Retreat for Oklahoma on November 5, 2008. The event was sponsored by the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Family Support and Prevention Service, and the Oklahoma State Interagency Child Abuse Prevention Task Force. Dr. Aronson focused his talk on how society has a vested interest in seeing that all children do well, that they thrive in mind, body, and spirit; and that we all benefit when children grow up to become healthy, productive, and compassionate adults. The interests of society as a whole – indeed, its very security – depend on the health and safety of our children. They ride on the extent to which we invest in children as our most precious resource and in parenthood and childrearing as the most important of all “occupations”. Dr. Aronson cited Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who said, “If you bungle raising your children, nothing else in life matters very much.” In September 2008, Dr. Aronson wrote a grant on the prevention of shaken baby syndrome in Maine.

Student Role: Be part of future efforts to prevent child abuse and neglect through workshops, grants, articles, and joining state, local, national, and international coalitions


On the weekend of October 25-26, 2008, Dr. Aronson once again participated, as core faculty, in the Maternal and Child Health Community Leadership Institute of the American Public Health Association. The Institute took place at the APHA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California, and this year focused on MCH issues and challenges in the Caribbean. A team of 10 public health practitioners and students from Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, and Guyana took part in a fascinating dialogue on leadership related to the public health issues unique to these countries. After reviewing the key areas of research that have important implications for mobilizing the power of communities, I presented the Future Search principles and engaged the group in an exercise rooted in these principles.

The purpose of the Maternal and Child Health Community Leadership Institute is to assist MCH program coordinators, program managers, and MCH advocates in developing and honing their leadership skills to effectively address the health concerns of women and children. The Institute, started in 2000, helps build capacity within each team (participants) in order to strengthen the MCH infrastructure within their community. This course provides a forum for the exploration of new paradigms, and new ways of approaching some of the complex and long-lasting issues related to improving maternal and child health for all populations. Overall the Institute is a part of APHA's continuing efforts to address one of its key priority areas--eliminating racial/ethnic health disparities. Despite efforts in MCH, research still shows that the healthcare needs of women and children are not being met. In order to address these issues of inadequate care, faculty members employ an interdisciplinary approach that addresses a community's "social and human capital," to assist leaders, citizens, and communities become active participants by diffusing and applying acquired social and scientific knowledge and integrate this new information into evidence-based public health practice. MCH leadership and its key attributes will be defined and methods to apply these skills will be reviewed as well as real time application (framed by the MCH Leadership Competencies). The necessary skills both from theory and practice, such as their ability to promote the health and well being of women and children or their genuine commitment, are assessed. How to be an effective MCH leader is discussed and participants are shown ways to hone or improve their skills. "MCH Leadership competencies: Working with communities and systems" are incorporated in order to promote community engagement, and this is the part that I served as faculty for. This is includes developing the relationships and dialogue between community members and those in leadership roles. This collaborative process should promote exchange of information, ideas, and resources. This course will provide participants with the knowledge to adequately define “what is a community” and demonstrate the necessary skills needed to engage the community. Participants are not only exposed to best practices but also given the opportunity to learn practical skills and develop an action plan to implement once they have returned to their communities. Ultimately, through their collaborative work, these teams will create sustainable and replicable efforts that improve the quality of life for mothers and children in communities worldwide.

Student Role: Be part of future work with the MCH Community Leadership Institute and other leadership development seminars and curricula development.

Dr. Aronson is partnering with Lisa Sockabasin, Minority Health Director for the State of Maine CDC (Public Health Agency) to hold a series of leadership dialogues for youth with special health needs and/or disability. Here is information about the first in the series , held in December 2008 ( ) :

Leadership and Communication: Taking a Closer Look
Leadership Development Series for Youth Ages 14-22 with Special Health Needs and/or a Disability, December 13, 2008, 9:30 a.m.- 2:00 p.m., Senator Inn, 284 Western Avenue, Augusta, Maine

This day included a leadership learning session and an informational meeting for youth with special health needs and/or a disability who might be interested in joining a regional or state Youth Advisory Council in Maine, USA.

In the Leadership session, we held a conversation about the differences between people. Sometimes we use differences as a way to divide ourselves from each other, or to act in ways that hurt others. By understanding how this kind of behavior works, we can become better at treating others in the same way that we expect to be treated. Through a video and conversation, we started to understand prejudice: not as something that only some people have, but as something that we all may show in communicating with others. By understanding how we all have a tendency to be prejudiced, we can learn how to listen to each other with respect and treat each other in ways that are fair. Some of us have experienced prejudice merely because of our health issues or disability. This series of workshops is an opportunity to learn how to stay positive in all our communications, and to:
• Understand how each of us is unique in how we view our world, and how that makes a difference in how we listen and communicate with each other?
• Understand the meaning of culture and how it applies to you?
• Get involved in a leadership role in Maine?
Presenters: Richard Allan Aronson, MD, MPH, Humane Worlds Center. Dick lives in Hallowell, Maine. He is grateful for the amazing opportunities for education and inspiration for public service that he has had throughout his life. Dick is deeply committed to peace, social justice, and equality for all people. He is especially dedicated to making the world better and more humane for children and youth. He has aspired to put his ideals into action through his leadership as a healer (pediatrician) and public servant (public health needs). He really enjoys teaching that engages everyone in interactive dialogue, and conversation in which all voices are deeply respected. Joining Dick is Lisa Sockabasin, Director of Minority Health for the Maine CDC (Public Health Agency).

Co-sponsors: The Maine Support Network on behalf of Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Maine CDC, Children with Special Health Needs (CSHN). This workshop is designed for youth ages 14-22 with Special Health Needs and/or Disability.

Student Role: Help develop future sessions in this series and future dynamic conversations with other groups.


For more than 15 years, Dr. Aronson’s leadership has focused on promoting the practice of cultural and linguistic competence in a wide variety of public health, maternal and child health, and human services organizations, and in communities. He is a Senior Consultant to the National Center for Cultural Competence at Georgetown University, and has given numerous keynotes, workshops, and consultations throughout the United States. A current project involves a three-year U.S. Department of Agriculture Grant to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition program for the State of Maine. Humane Worlds Center , in partnership with the Minority Health Office at the Maine CDC (Public Health Agency), is providing a unique educational program to WIC Program Staff that seeks to integrate the practice of cultural and linguistic practice into all aspects of WIC services and operation. This educational program represents a synthesis of several bodies of research that are at the heart of the Humane Worlds Center.

Student Role: Be part of the development of this educational program and its application.


War and social injustice related to war have a profound impact on the health of mothers and children. Since 2001, hundreds of thousands of American parents have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are part of a U.S. military that has a greater percentage of mothers and fathers than it has had in any other war. Of roughly 263,000 people currently deployed overseas, about 43 percent are parents. Children with a parent at war are vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and other effects, some of which may last throughout their lives and pass to future generations. Homecomings are traumatic as well, especially when parents return with physical or emotional wounds.

There is an urgent need for public health and maternal and child health to place this issue front and center on our agenda. Humane World Center is deeply committed to this effort. Following the 2008 John MacQueen Lecture by Dr. Victor Sidel and a subsequent workshop that we organized at the Association of MCH (AMCHP) Programs Annual Meeting, we formed a peace and social justice maternal and child health work group. This group meets on a regular basis to establish a movement in maternal and child health to create a culture of peace and non-violence. We will give another workshop on February 22, 2009, at the AMCHP Annual Meeting. We view war as part of the continuum of violence prevention that is integral to MCH. We seek partnerships with military parents, National Guard, and other military agencies that provide MCH services to affected families, including mental health. If we cooperate in new ways, we
can make a difference in families, communities, and at the national level. Our long-term goal, consistent with public health s essence, is the primary prevention of war. This means the creation of a culture of peace in society at all levels. In our workshop, through a panel and interactive format, we 1) report on the work of our group to date; 2) highlight an educational initiative to raise urgency for action by the MCH community; 3) bring family voices and military MCH providers into our dialogue; and 4) propose incorporating this issue into the Five-Year State MCH Strengths and Needs Assessment in 2010.

Learning Objectives for the February 22, 2009, Workshop:
By the end of this presentation, attendees will better understand 1) the impact of war on the MCH population; and 2) the urgency to make this issue an MCH priority. Further, attendees will learn about the work group s actions to date and plan a course of action for the following year.

Student Role: Be part of the creation of this movement, including coordination of the group, and preparation and presentation of workshop and other materials.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Humane Worlds Center January 2009

Purpose: To inspire a new generation of leaders in public health and service to create conditions under which all children and youth have the full equal opportunity to thrive in body, mind, and spirit. Background: Those of us invested in public health face local and global challenges in dealing with maternal and child mortality, violence in all forms including child abuse, obesity and other forms of malnutrition, mental illness, asthma, and many other complex issues. Our objective is to create a world more humane and equitable for women and children. To make progress, we need broad participation of many stakeholders, which requires new forms of leadership. The Humane Worlds Center for Maternal and Child Health intends to provide that leadership. The Center draws on new research that shows 1) How various forms of inequality, injustice, and stress influence health, 2) How resilience and other positive resources provide the potential to create health equity, and 3) How leadership rooted in fostering inclusive dialogue and collaborative action form the foundation for the new leadership. We provide consultation on the translation of this research into humane practice. We provide an array of educational experiential opportunities to those who seek to learn and practice such leadership. We mentor those who have a passion for public health and seek tools to translate their idealism into action. Our method of choice for this work is Future Search, a unique planning process that has been used with success worldwide for 25 years to stimulate unprecedented action.

By this means we seek to unite stakeholders and serve as a catalyst for essential but previously unlikely partnerships. Our intention is to enable people to discover common ground for action that they did not realize they shared. Such discovery can lay the foundation for leadership needed to bring dignity, hope, and equity to women and children. We seek to move away from systems that thrive on pathology, medical diagnosis, and risk reduction. Instead, we envision systems that derive their power from resilience, trust, and community. Our species has a remarkable capacity for healing and cooperating for the common good. The purpose of the Center is to mobilize that capacity. To support this service mission, we sponsor research on effective methods and mentor those who intend to practice new forms of social action. In so doing, we equip a new generation of leaders with lifelong tools to actualize their ideals.

Public Health: Our purpose in public health, defined by the USA Institute of Medicine and World Health Organization, is to foster conditions that assure optimal health in mind, body, and spirit. We commit to ending health inequities and protecting human dignity. In MCH, we seek to change social conditions so that children experience humane worlds. Such worlds help meet basic needs and support their safety and well being.

Vision: Our vision is to bring the highest ideals of public health into the lives of children and families everywhere and to improve their health by:
1) Humanizing the worlds that they experience;
2) Changing how we think about public health to embrace every facet of their lives;
3) Creating forums for dialogue that lead to effective action on global health inequities; and
4) Educating and inspiring a new generation of public service leaders to carry on this work in the long term.

Goals: We seek to 1) Create equity and end MCH disparities by radical strengthening of the capacity of all concerned parties for participatory leadership. 2) Involve young people in all aspects of our operation, so as to educate and inspire new leadership in public health. 3) Set foundations for societal changes to make equity and justice in MCH a reality; and 4) Challenge individual and organizational biases; 5) Respect all voices, including those historically marginalized; and 6) Promote opportunities for shared learning.

Expertise: We specialize in:

1. Synthesizing several bodies of research that will have a significant impact on maternal and child health practice over the next 50 years. 2. Translating this research into humane MCH and public health practice and leadership. 3. Integrating cultural and linguistic competence into public health and health as key strategy to end health disparities. 4. Changing the language of public health and medicine to better reflect our ideals and purpose. 5. Bringing multiple stakeholders together to untangle complex public health challenges and take collaborative action to solve them. 6. Inspiring a new generation of leaders in public health and service.


1. Consultation to individuals, communities, organizations to build capacity in the above, by A) Giving keynotes, motivational speeches, presentations, workshops. B) Organizing forums with intergenerational and cross-cultural dialogue. C) Writing papers and grants. 2. Teaching, mentoring, and leadership, through A) Individual and group mentoring. B) Internships to build leadership capacity of young people. 3. Organization and facilitation of interactive meetings with broad stakeholder participation to unite diverse parties and spark action to create public health equity.

For more information, contact:
207 215 7317 Cell
207 622 8822 Office