InFocus Health and Healthcare Team
Belinda Waller-Peterson, Assistant Professor
Dr. Waller-Peterson teaches courses in African American literature and culture, Black Feminist Theory, and the Health Humanities. She specializes in women’s health issues, maternity and illness narratives. She is also a licensed Registered Nurse in the state of Pennsylvania. Her nursing experience and English literature background allow her to explore multiple intersecting areas of study including the Health Humanities; Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Africana Studies. She is the President of the African American Literature and Culture Society.
For Dr. Waller-Peterson, learning is the dynamic exchange of ideas and questions that leads to intellectual growth. She is particularly concerned with helping students begin the process of asking larger questions about the literature we engage in order to cultivate meaningful and informed opinions as well as the language to discuss their positions. She says, “While I encourage students to pose questions, I also underscore the process of critical thinking in order to arrive at an unusual answer or an unresolved conclusion.” Her classroom is a site of empowerment and transformation for students where they can discover the significance of their own voices and those of their peers.
Phone: (610) 861-1642
James Teufel | Director and Associate Professor of Public Health
James Teufel, M.P.H., Ph.D., is the Director of Public Health and an Assistant Professor of Public Health within Moravian College. Before Moravian College, Dr. Teufel was the Director of the Mercyhurst Institute for Public Health at Mercyhurst University and the National Health and Evaluation Director of the OASIS Institute. He has also held research and evaluation positions with the Research Triangle Institute International, CNA Corporation, and Southern Illinois University Carbondale. In his scholarship, he has contributed to the business case for the integration of medicine and civil legal aid in the United States and has consulted the White House Legal Aid Interagency Roundtable on the intersection of health and justice as related to United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 16 (Justice). He uses an interdisciplinary approach that combines public health, social science, and business to change systems that impact population health. He has completed graduate degrees with a focus on health behavior, education, and promotion. Dr. Teufel’s research and teaching expertise includes social determinants of health, public health program evaluation, and health promotion theory. He has made over 90 professional presentations and published more than 30 peer-reviewed publications in the disciplines of public health, medicine, aging, or law. His current interests also include strengthening business cases, bridging shared values, and promoting the use of return on investment among nonprofit organizations to achieve social impact. In 2014, Dr. Teufel received the Advocate Award from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnership for his contributions to the advancement of medical-legal partnerships nationally.
Phone: (610) 625-7807
Health and Justice: 2021 - 2022 Center for Investigation
The 1948/1949 World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” More recently, the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration added the dimensions of occupational/financial, spiritual/purpose, and environment to the original WHO dimensions of wellness. WHO also stated that “[t]he enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” 1 (our emphasis) As Michael Marmot has written, today, we live in the best of times and the worst of times. On average, people live healthier lives, but the inequities between groups of people are the largest in human history. In the United States, we recently witnessed how racial and socio-economic inequalities contributed to higher instances of severe cases of COVID-19 and a disproportionate rate of mortality for persons of color.2 Moreover, the United States ranks well below comparable countries with regard to discrimination in the civil and criminal justice systems and access to the civil justice system.3
This year’s investigative focus, Health, and Justice uses the 8 dimensions of wellness4 to explore the larger question: What are the causes and consequences of health injustice as well as health justice? As a community, we will consider the ways in which emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, social, physical, spiritual, and occupational factors impact our individual and collective definitions and experiences of health in the past, present, and future. We will also engage the way racism (systemic, cultural, interpersonal) and discrimination threaten public health, as reflected in The American Medical Association’s recent policy changes.5 How and why do racism, class, and neighborhood predict and explain health conditions and outcomes in the United and States?
- World Justice Project (2019/2020). Rule of Law Index.