The Art of Public Health
Creativity and its close relative, innovation, is everywhere in public discourse. There is a wide recognition that the way we’ve always done things isn’t working for a lot of the problems we face. Reductionist science and the normal science that it is a part of has helped public health out a lot, eradicating diseases, prolonging our lives, made us happy, has enabled us to feed the world (or large parts of it), and provided answers to many of our most vexing questions.
Except many of those diseases, once thought to be slain, are coming back, there is deep concern that our next generation might not live as long as the current ones, wealth hasn’t equalled happiness, food insecurity is endemic, and we are still taking more than a generation to translate simple knowledge into practice.
Innovation and creativity are needed to see these problems in a new light, which may lead to insights, discoveries and better strategies for taking what we know into what we do. Artists’ and designers live on creativity; it is their lifeblood. Art is the very act of creation and design is doing so with intent, so bringing this world to public health is a natural fit for those seeking ways of addressing the thorny, wicked problems of public health.
This Friday October 1st, the Dalla Lana School of Public Health will be hosting The Art of Public Health conference . Organized by students interested in exploring the intersection of artistic creativity and its application to public health science and practice, this conference will serve to remind and inspire us about the power of art in what we do. Specifically:
The Art of Public Health’ Conference will focus on an emerging and innovative area in public health: arts-based approaches to public health areas, including research, knowledge translation, evaluation and community development.
The conference website reminds us that the very roots of the words within much of what we do are tied to art and creative exploration:
art (arht) noun: the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others
pub∙lic (pubh-lik) adjective: of, pertaining to, or affecting a population or a community as a whole
health (helth) noun: a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being
art of public health (arht of pubh-lik helth) idea: the use of skill and imagination applied toward the creation of a state of complete physical, mental and social well being affecting a population or community as a whole
For those of you in Toronto, the registration is free and information can be found here. For those unable to attend, the conference organizers have a Twitter feed . Some further details and contributions will also be available through the main conference website and the home of the Youth Voices Research Group.