Health and Society Program

The Program of Excellence on Health and Society supports a unique strength among LACC faculty and furthers Center efforts to address inequality, one of Latin America and the Caribbean's greatest challenges. Inequality in the region cannot be understood nor effectively addressed without close examination of the relationship between health and society.

Through its interdisciplinary Program of Excellence on Health and Society, LACC advocates for a more complete study of health and health disparities in the region by scholars and scientists and a deeper understanding among practitioners, policy-makers, and the general public of the societal and cultural causes of health-related challenges and inequities. The program prioritizes sustained collaboration with a broad and diverse community of local, national and international partners and supports impactful engagement with program constituents to ensure that LACC and its network of scholars remain at the forefront of efforts to understand and address the causes and consequences of some of the hemisphere's most complex challenges related to health.

The program facilitates dialogue to successfully confront health disparities in the region by shedding light on a variety of issues including, but not limited to income and other socioeconomic determinants of health, marginalized communities and lack of access, racial, ethnic and gender-based obstacles to health, the epidemiology of violence, human security, health, wellness and safety among the socially and/or culturally vulnerable, and health care economies and services.

The program also differs from more traditional clinical health sciences programs by fostering interdisciplinary social science approaches and collaborations that extend beyond disciplines of medicine and public health and result in a more integrated and holistic study of health and society in the Americas. The program also provides both existing and rising scholars with cutting-edge training on how to apply scholarship to public policy through innovative research techniques and interdisciplinary approaches, and provides them with opportunities to apply their training in practical ways in communities of practice.

Featured programming of the LACC Health and Society Program of Excellence includes:

Grants and Sponsored Projects: LACC core faculty affiliates are among the nation's leading scholars on Latin American and Caribbean health and society. LACC administers a multi-million dollar research portfolio on health and society with support from the National Institutes of Health, Open Society Foundations, USAID, and the US Department of Justice, among others. Sponsored projects include, but are not limited to: Physician Migration and its Implications for Puerto Rico’s Health Care System; Reducing Serious Mental Illness and Suicide Stigma Among Latinx Medical Students; Street Gangs in Central America; and The Syndemics Project, the first large NIH-funded interdisciplinary research project to examine the social and structural risks for HIV and drug abuse associated with the tourism industry.

Research Network for Health and Society (REACH): Based at FIU, this international, multi-lingual network advances interdisciplinary research and training on health, wellness and society in the Global South, creates opportunities for more comprehensive academic perspectives on health, culture and policy, and develops and disseminates evidence-based policy-relevant knowledge and solutions to address health concerns in the region. Part of LACC's International Linkages Program.

Photo Voice/Proyecto Lentes: This special topic series seeks to implement policy change to benefit vulnerable populations through self-documentation of images and solution-based analyses. This series includes Photo Voice-Dominican Republic, which addresses the public health challenges and socio-economic and political stigma faced by heroin users and other vulnerable populations in the Dominican Republic, a country with no established medical protocols to effectively treat those addicted. Another project in the series, Mi Vida con VIH/My Life with HIV, was created by ten Latino and Latina activist-artists living with HIV/AIDS in Miami, Florida. It fosters education and awareness about HIV/AIDS in South Florida and describes the meaning of the epidemic for Latinos and Latinas through their own stories, pictures, and words. Additionally, LACC Photo Voice programming supports for-credit bilingual coursework to train undergraduate students on Photo Voice methodology, engages them in field research and Photo Voice application with South Florida Latinx communities, and teaches them about the important connections between health and public policy.

Health and Society Creative Works: A key component of LACC's Health and Society Program of Excellence is a commitment to using the arts as a vehicle to communicate and educate via the broad dissemination of new and relevant information in a variety of formats to support maximum impact. Select works include the documentary film, Collapse, which focuses on the devastating impacts of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico and uncovers how politics and politicians collide with health, life, death, science and disaster preparedness.