Activism and Health Promotion: A Primer
Black Lives Matter Protest

Course Objective

  • Describe influential frameworks for understanding activist successes and failures
  • Discuss contemporary social movements and their relevance to health promotion and public health
  • Describe common strategic challenges that face health activists

Date: October 2, 2018

Merlin Chowkwanyun, PhD, MPH
Donald Gemson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

In October 2018’s Log-in2Learn webinar, participants learn from Dr. Merlin Chowkwanyun about the history and role of social movements in driving public health and health promotion efforts in the United States. The lecture addresses the considerations made by activists in health advocacy work, such as: opportunities for conciliation, confrontation, or compromise; rhetoric and framing of messages; audience sensitivity in social movements; positionality of activist groups; and the use of coalitions. Dr. Chowkwanyun applies these frameworks to describe and evaluate the strategies of past health topics associated with activist efforts, including: healthcare access, mass incarceration, HIV/AIDS, breast cancer, environmental justice, and vaccination. At the end of the lecture, Dr. Chowkwanyun describes three recent movements – Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and Me Too – and forecasts their role in health policy development.

Region 2 Public Health Training Center