This weekend was an exciting time for the Anthropology department at AU. We hosted our 13th annual Public Anthropology Conference. Speakers represented a multitude of schools and organizations. One particularly exciting session highlighted a new partnership between the American University Department of Anthropology and National Nurses United.
National Nurses United is the largest union of registered nurses in the history of the United States. This fall, NNU and the Anthropology Department unrolled a new certificate program in Health Inequity and Care (HIC). Three of NNU’s educators, Heidi Hoechst, Alana Glaser, and Chris Nielsen joined AU Professor Adrienne Pine to talk about this new opportunity.
The panel focused on the potential of the new partnership between NNU and AU as well as the dynamic online learning format for all of the HIC courses. It gave students a chance to ask questions and learn more about NNU and the certificate program. The certificate includes six different courses, each exploring the relationship between health care and political and economic structures. Courses such as Militarization and Health and Neoliberal Globalization and Health take a critical look at our healthcare system, offering students the chance to learn how to examine it as part of a “larger structural machine.”
The panelists discussed the format as one of the most exciting parts of the new program. All of the courses are offered online. This enables registered nurses from around the country to be enrolled along with undergraduate and graduate students from AU. Registered nurses have the opportunity to critically examine the structures they are working in and traditional students have the unique chance to learn about healthcare from those at the frontlines. The NNU educators hope that this will offer the space for “asking critical questions” and facilitate a constructive dialogue about what it means to be effective social advocates.
This year’s PAC was hoping to create a conversation between academia and social activism. The NNU panel exemplified what this conversation can look like moving forward. NNU and the anthropology department at AU are both committed to issues of social justice. The nurses working with NNU often witness these issues firsthand. They are activists who understand that well-being encompasses far more than what happens in clinical settings. The Health Inequity and Care Certificate is a chance for social activism to meet academia in a space committed to taking a critical look at health.