Jean Kahler

BA, Smith College. MFA, Sarah Lawrence. Writing instructor at Purchase College, SUNY. Writer for health projects at Columbia University, including HIV prevention and treatment adherence interventions for heterosexual couples in long-term relationships, for women in alternative-to-incarceration programs, and for clients of South African township clinics, as well as pediatric dental health outreach programs for urban immigrant communities. Areas of interest include nutrition, LGBT health, and sexual and reproductive health. Published writing includes The End of New York, monograph with photography by Jessica Rowe, published by Furnace Press. SLC, 2014–

Previous Courses

MA Health Advocacy

History of Health Care in the United States


From colonial times, access to health care has been less a history of access and inclusion and more one of exclusion and organizing to guarantee its access to the increasingly diverse population of a growing country. In this conference-based course, we will explore the varied understandings of health and medical care from colonial times to the late 20th century. Topics to be considered will include the role that ethnicity, race, gender, and religious identity played in access to and provision of health services; the migration of health care from home and community (midwifery, homeopathy) to institutions (nursing, hospitals) and the social conditions that fueled that migration; the struggle for ascendancy among the different fields of medical education; and the creation of the field of public health, its role in defining and controlling outbreaks of disease, and its impact on addressing inequities in access to health care services. Course participants will prepare a major research paper, investigating an aspect of the history of health care that is of special interest. The conference paper will be developed through regular meetings with the instructor and in conjunction with other course participants.