Magdalena Ornstein-Sloan

MA, Columbia University, Teachers College. MPH, Hunter College. PhD, CUNY, The Graduate Center. During 15 years of work in the nonprofit sector and 20 years as a personal health care advocate, Dr. Ornstein’s experience encompasses individual and public-policy advocacy related to the delivery of long-term and end-of-life care. She is a Certified Brain Injury Specialist (CBIS) and has served on advisory boards of the New York State Office for the Aging Family Caregiver Council, New York State Caregiving and Respite Coalition, Caregiving Youth Research Collaborative, and American Association of Caregiving Youth. A public health geographer, her research focuses on the experiences of family caregivers, specifically related to their experiences of their home environments and interactions with the health care system.  Special interests include brain injury, caregiving youth and qualitative methods. SLC, 2015–

Undergraduate Courses 2021-2022

Psychology

Environmental Psychology: An Exploration of Space and Place

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course explores human-environment interactions and the relationships between and among natural, social, and built environments in shaping us as individuals. We will critically explore human interactions from the body, the home, and the local to the globalized world, with a return to the individual experience of our physical and social environments. As a survey course, we will cover myriad topics, which may include informal family caregiving, urban/rural/suburban relationships, gentrification, urban planning, environmental sustainability, globalization, and social justice, as well as varying conceptualizations and experiences of “home,” based on gender, race, class, and age and for people with disabilities. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will give special consideration to public space and home environments. As a discussion-based seminar, topics will ultimately be driven by student interest. Several films will be incorporated into class.

Faculty

Food Environments, Health, and Social Justice

Open, Seminar—Fall

With a growing awareness of health disparities and inequity in food access, researchers and policymakers are rethinking the role of the environment in shaping our diets and health. This course takes a collaborative approach to investigating some of the key issues guiding this area of research and action. Students will critically review literature on food environments, food access, and health inequities and explore how modes of food production and distribution shape patterns of food availability and consumption in cities. Students will use photography and video to examine foods available in the neighborhoods where they live, review news articles and media related to the course themes, and reflect on the ways that their own eating habits are influenced by the social and material settings of their day-to-day lives. The course concludes with students writing letters to the editor/op-eds to a news outlet of their choice, with suggestions about how to move forward with action to improve food access, public health, and social justice in the places where they live.

Faculty

Previous Courses

Health Advocacy

Ethics and Advocacy

Seminar—None

Using a social justice framework, this course will provide a theoretical foundation for the exploration and application of ethical dilemmas relevant to the health care system in the United States. The ethics of advocacy, in its various forms, will be explored from different positions—from the patient and family level to health care institutions, funding mechanisms and public policy perspectives. Due to shifting demographics of who provides care, the “where” of health care and the resulting ethical dilemmas will be explored, as the majority of long-term care in the United States is provided in the community by family caregivers. In addition, as the medical model of disease has shifted to include the socialecological model—recognizing the importance of the social on all aspects of health, wellness, and illness—ethical dilemmas have changed, as well. The shift away from purely medical bioethics to a more socially informed version of health care requires different approaches to solving new problems encountered within the current health care system. This course is not intended to teach you a moral code. It will not teach you to act ethically, although it will likely make you think more about how you act and why. You will be challenged to identify ethical problems and explore various outcomes and solutions, making real-world decisions within a climate of moral ambiguity and competing priorities. Ethical dilemmas that you have or with which you are engaging in your field placements will provide possibilities for fertile conversations about these real-world dilemmas and how to effectively grapple with the range of possible outcomes.

Faculty

Psychology

Environmental Psychology: An Exploration of Space and Place

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course explores human-environment interactions and the relationships among natural, social, and built environments in shaping us as individuals. We will critically explore human interactions from the body, the home, and the local to the globalized world, with a return to the individual experience of our physical and social environments. As a survey course, we will cover myriad topics that may include informal family caregiving, urban/rural/suburban relationships, gentrification, urban planning, environmental sustainability, globalization, social justice, and varying conceptualizations and experiences of “home” based on gender, race, class, and age and for people with disabilities. As a discussion-based seminar, topics will ultimately be driven by student interest. Films and a field trip will be incorporated.

Faculty

Family Caregiving Across the Life Cycle

Open, Seminar—Fall

There are only four kinds of people in the world: those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers. —Rosalynn Carter

Care and caregiving are aspects of daily life that each of us depends upon at various times throughout our lives. Yet care remains hidden and devalued in our current sociopolitical climate in which women continue to provide a majority of care. In this course, we will look at care as both an orientation and an activity provided by family and friends to people with disabilities and older adults. An Ethic of Care will provide a lens through which to explore the experiences of family caregivers. Specifically, caregiving youth, young adult, and male caregivers—as well as paid caregivers and care receivers living with a variety of chronic illnesses—will be our focus. Utilizing ethnographic research methods, we will explore care and caregiving from a variety of perspectives. This course will take an interdisciplinary approach and introduce students to the various literature on family caregiving. From psychology to public health, we will consider care as a reciprocal process that ebbs and flows throughout the life course. We will read from feminist theory, critical disabilities studies, psychology, and public health and will look at how care is portrayed in popular culture, film, and books. We will learn about individual and policy responses geared toward supporting family caregivers, as well as organizations that are dedicated to creating better conditions of care for all of us.

Faculty

Food Environments, Health, and Social Justice

Open, Seminar—Spring

With obesity and diabetes rising at alarming rates and a growing awareness of disparities in food access, researchers and policymakers are rethinking the role of the environment in shaping our diets and health. This course takes a collaborative approach to investigating some of the key issues guiding this area of research and action. Students will critically review literature on food environments, food access, and health inequalities and explore how modes of food production and distribution shape patterns of food availability in cities. Students will use photography and video to examine the availability of food in the neighborhoods where they live, review media related to the course themes, and use a time/space food diary to participate in a SNAP Challenge (eating on a food stamp budget), while reflecting on the ways that their own eating habits are influenced by the social and material settings of their day-to-day lives. The course concludes with students writing letters to the editor/Op-Eds to a news outlet of their choice, with suggestions about how to move forward with action to improve food access, public health, and social justice in the places where they live.

Faculty

Public Health Psychology

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course will address the intersection of public health and psychology—an approach with the potential to positively impact health experiences and outcomes, although the disciplines are not often considered together. Because health is determined by the interaction of myriad complex factors—including biology, lifestyle, environmental factors, and social and political conditions—multidisciplinary approaches are needed to address our most pressing public health problems. Community psychology is particularly interested in social change, activism, reducing oppression, and empowerment; public health focuses on assessing prevalence and incidence, as well as identifying risk and protective factors and changing individual health behaviors. Our approach will look at health and community psychology, in combination with public health, to explore various perspectives and interventions related to current health and social problems. The two disciplines vary in their approaches to interventions, with individualistic approaches on the one hand and population level on the other. Students will be invited to explore issues related to personal health and illness, population-level approaches to health promotion in order to identify macro-level structures, and individual-level barriers to achieving health equity. Topics of inquiry will be led by student interest and will include environmental, occupational, and behavioral health; housing and displacement; aging; physical and cognitive disabilities; and food and health.

Faculty

Wherever You Go, There You Are: An Exploration of Environmental Psychology

Open, Seminar—Spring

This course explores the relationship between physical and social environments and human behavior. Utilizing qualitative methodologies (autoethnography and photovoice), we will critically explore human interactions from the body, the home, and the local to the globalized world, with a return to the individual experience of our physical and social environments. As a survey course, we will cover myriad topics that may include food (in)security and alternative food networks, informal family caregiving, urban/rural/suburban relationships, gentrification, urban planning, environmental sustainability, globalization, social justice, and varying conceptualizations and experiences of ”home” based on gender, race, class, and people with disabilities. Topics will ultimately be driven by student interest. Films and a field trip will be incorporated. Students are encouraged to participate in service learning through local community involvement facilitated by the Office of Community Partnerships, with the possibility of conference projects resulting from that experience.

Faculty