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Urban Health and Society: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research and Practice

Nicholas Freudenberg (Editor), Susan Klitzman (Editor), Susan Saegert (Editor)
ISBN: 978-0-470-38366-7
352 pages
August 2009, Jossey-Bass
Urban Health and Society: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research and Practice (0470383666) cover image

Praise for Urban Health and Society

"This is a spectacular resource for practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and students interested in improving the lives and health of individuals and families in urban settings. This book provides the most current frameworks, research, and approaches for understanding how unique features of the urban physical and social environments that shape the health of over half of the world's population that is already residing in large cities. Its interdisciplinary research and practice focus is a welcome innovation."
—Hortensia Amaro, associate dean, Urban Health Research; Distinguished Professor, Bouve College of Health Sciences; and director, Institute on Urban Health Research, Northeastern University

"Urban Health and Society: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Research and Practice provides students in public health, urban planning, social work, and other professions with the critical knowledge and practical guidance they need to work as effective members of interdisciplinary teams aimed at studying and addressing urban health problems. Throughout the chapters, the book's attention to community participation, social justice, and equity as well as interdisciplinary research methods make it an invaluable resource."
—Barbara A. Israel, professor, Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, University of Michigan

"The book will be of great interest to academics, politicians, planners, and public health professionals attempting to understand or reduce urban health risks, create safe urban environments, and deliver effective and sustainable health services and programs to urban populations."
—Stephen Lepore, professor and PhD program director, Department of Public Health, Temple University

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The Contributors.


One: Frameworks for Interdisciplinary Urban Health Research and Practice (Nicholas Freudenberg, Susan Klitzman, and Susan Saegert).


The Implications of Urban Life for Health.

Levels and Types of Interdisciplinarity.

Conundrums in Interdisciplinarity.

Interdisciplinarity and Theories of Knowledge.

Methodological Challenges and Approaches to Interdisciplinarity.

Interdisciplinarity: Which Disciplines When?.

Role Definitions in Interdisciplinary Research and Practice.

Multiple Levels of Intervention.


Two: Environmental Justice Praxis: Implications for Interdisciplinary Urban Public Health (Tom Angotti, and Julie Sze).

Environmental Justice and Public Health.

The Built Environment, Urban Planning, and Urban Public Health.

Environmental and Social Justice, Interdisciplinarity, and the Politics of Knowledge.

Asthma and the Environmental Justice Campaign for a Solid Waste Plan in New York City.

Asian Immigrant and Refugee Organizing for Environmental Health and Housing in the Bay Area.




Three: Interdisciplinary, Participatory Research on Urban Retail Food Environments and Dietary Behaviors (Shannon N. Zenk, Amy J. Schulz, Angela M. Odoms-Young, and Murlisa Lockett).


Determinants of Retail Food Environments in Cities.

Using CBPR to Understand Health Implications of Detroit’s Food Environment.

Directions for Future Research.


Four: An Ecological Model of Urban Child Health (Kim T. Ferguson, Pilyoung Kim, James R. Dunn, and Gary W. Evans).


An Ecological Model.

Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model.

Influences on Children’s Health in the Urban Context.

Research Across Multiple Levels.

Agenda for Future Research and Practice.

Toward a Holistic Understanding of Urban Child Health.


Five: Geographic Information Systems, Environmental Justice, and Health Disparities (Juliana Maantay, Andrew R. Maroko, Carlos Alicea, and A. H. Strelnick).


Community-Based Participatory Research.

Multilevel Models of Causation.

Role of Geographic Information Systems.

Environmental Justice and Health in the Bronx.



Implications of Findings.

Lessons on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Urban Health Research.



Six: Racial Inequality in Health and Policy-Induced Breakdown of African American Communities (Arline T. Geronimus, and J. Phillip Thompson).


Racialized Ideologies: Developmentalism, Economism, and the American Creed.

Implications for Public Policy.

Building a Movement for Policy Reform.


Seven: An Interdisciplinary and Social-Ecological Analysis of the U.S. Foreclosure Crisis as it Relates to Health (Susan Saegert, Kimberly Libman, Desiree Fields).

Housing and Health: What’s the Connection?.

The Social Ecology of Foreclosure.

The Research and Its Context.

Focus Group Analysis and the Emergence of Health as an Issue.

Foreclosure and Public Health.

Neoliberalism, the Foreclosure Crisis, and Health Consequences.



Eight: Transdisciplinary Action Research on Teen Smoking Prevention.

Juliana Fuqua, Daniel Stokols, Richard Harvey, Atusa Baghery, and Larry Jamner).


Review of Transdisciplinary Action Research.

Transdisciplinary Action Research Cycle.

Translating Transdisciplinary Research into Community Intervention and Policy.

Factors Facilitating or Impeding Collaboration Among TPC Members.

Implications and Lessons Learned from the TPC Study.

Future Directions.


Nine: How Vulnerabilities and Capacities Shape Population Health after Disasters (Craig Hadley, Sasha Rudenstine, and Sandro Galea).

Social and Economic Determinants of Health After Disasters.

Humanitarian Crises in Angola and the Balkans.

Hurricane Katrina.

September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks on New York City.

Implications for Prevention and Intervention.


Ten: Immigrants and Urban Aging: Toward a Policy Framework (Marianne Fahs, Anahi Viladrich, and Nina S. Parikh).

The New Urban Demography: Baby Boomers and Immigrants.

Economic and Social Influences on Aging and Health Policy.

Social and Environmental Considerations.

Toward a Conceptual Framework.

A Public Health Research and Policy Agenda.


Eleven: Reversing the Tide of Type 2 Diabetes Among African Americans Through Interdisciplinary Research (Hollie Jones, and Leandris C. Liburd).

A Dialogue Between Two Disciplines: Psychology and Medical Anthropology.

Ethnic Identity and the Experience of Being African American with Type 2 Diabetes.

Interdisciplinary Research Methods.

Integrating Social Psychology and Medical Anthropology to Reduce the Burden of Diabetes.



Twelve: Using Interdisciplinary Approaches To Strengthen Urban Health Research And Practice (Nicholas Freudenberg, Susan Klitzman, and Susan Saegert).

Doing Interdisciplinary Research and Practice.

Defining the Problem.

Creating a Process for Interdisciplinary Work.

Choosing Institutional and Community Partners.

Influencing Policy and Practice.

Evaluating Impact.

Wanted: Interdisciplinary Researchers and Practitioners.




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Nicholas Freudenberg is Distinguished Professor of Urban Public Health at Hunter College and of Social Psychology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York where he directs the CUNY Doctor of Public Health Program.

Susan Klitzman is professor of Environmental Health and director of the Urban Public Health Program, Hunter College. She currently serves on the New York City Board of Health.

Susan Saegert is professor of Human and Organizational Development and director of the Center of Community Studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She is the former director of the Center for Human Environments and professor of Environmental Psychology at the CUNY Graduate Center.

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... Takes a practical focus to introducing researchers and graduate students to the connections between population health and social justice, the variety of approaches to studying those connections from an interdisciplinary vantage point, the creation of interventions to address disparities, and potential applications of these approaches for research. The editors and contributing authors succeed with a book that provides examples of and formulas for interdisciplinary research in a variety of fields related to urban health. The authors do a superb job of tying the chapters together, beginning with why these approaches to research and practice are warranted and ending with potential limitations and benefits. This book brings practical knowledge together from a variety of disciplines to enhance population health and social justice research.
—Doody's Book Review Service, April 2010
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