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The Epidemiology & Justice Group, an unofficial/unaffiliated group organized by UNC epidemiology students, aims to support fellow students seeking to use epidemiology for social justice efforts. We teach each other, advocate in our department, and support research on themes of epidemiology critical history and philosophy, community-led public health research principles and practice, and justice-focused epidemiology.

Contact information:

  • Join the Google group for event notices, planning, and access to prior meeting minutes. All interested are welcome.
  • Email us at

See below for our schedule and resources, as well as for more information about our zine.

Summer 2021

This summer we are holding a book club! We’ll be talking about The Activist Academic (which is conveniently available online through UNC libraries to Onyen holders) by Cann and DeMeulenaere.

When: every other Wednesday, 5pm ET – May 26th to August 4th

Where: Zoom
Zoom ID: 912 0990 1484
Zoom link:

What: a chapter of that book (the first week is the first chapter, etc.)


Journal Clubs and Semin(aren’t)s

We host journal clubs and seminar(ern’t)s that flip the usual seminar structure of mostly lecture with questions. Announcements for these events go out over the episems departmental listserv as well as Epi & Justice Group listserv.

Potential journal club topics could include: authorship (in-fighting, peer-review, community, order, path to authorship, critical thinking, open source journals), burnout, objectivity and “neutral” expert, and critical race theory. Please email us if you have suggested topics or readings.

Past semin(aren’t) topics have included: public health ethics, failures in successful public health careers, epidemiology from other academic disciplines, epidemiology from outside of academia. Please email us if you have suggested topics or panelists.

All are welcome.

Working Group Meetings

We schedule working groups meetings both for planning Seminaren’ts and Journal Clubs as well as for inter/intra-departmental organizing around current issues and opportunities in the curriculum. For details on the agenda and topics, join the google group listserv and above agenda.

All are welcome.

Annual Steve Wing Environmental Justice Lecture


  • TBD

Prior Years:

  • 2020/2021: Jill Johnston (University of Southern California)
  • 2019: Scott Laney (NIOSH Morgantown). See article on his work on Black Lung in central Appalachia.
  • 2018: No speaker
  • 2017: Chris Heaney
  • 2016: Sacoby Wilson

Topic & Reading List

We can’t cover everything relevant to a critical, social-justice themed epidemiology during any year’s journal clubs and seminaren’ts.

We offer this list on critical / social justice informed epidemiology as a resource to students and faculty interested in these topics. Many of these readings are based on two classes previously offered at the UNC Epidemiology Department by Steve Wing: (1) EPID 891: History and Philosophy of Epidemiology (Syllabus) and (2) EPID 786: Community-Driven Epidemiology and Environmental Justice (Syllabus). We are indebted to Steve for his decades of community work, learning, and teaching on these topics, and hope to carry on as much of his legacy as we collectively can. See Steve’s CV for more relevant articles on these topics.

View our living bibliography of academic literature that our Epi & Justice Group has read together:


See our Zine Vol 1 here. (link to online view PDF) (link to PDF to print)

We made a zine to document and share our struggles and triumphs in integrating epidemiology and social justice. Other departments at UNC (geography and biology, for example) have had success in making zines (see links below for more information). The zine format allows our perspective to be shared more widely and accessibly than traditional academic writing, and encourages creativity in translating stories to the page. Each person can take a page and spend as much or little time as they want crafting it. A page can weave together archival materials, academic writing, artwork, maps, figures, abstracts, poems or other testimonials to represent the ways that you think about rigorous, justice-oriented epidemiology.  

Please share the zine online or print it and share with others. To turn the print version into a booklet it should be printed two sided using the “flip on short side” or “short side binding” option.

At APHA’s 2019 Annual Conference in Philadelphia, we presented “Zine development as a pedagogical tool for critically evaluating how social justice and epidemiology relate” in the Spirit of 1848 session “Fighting Forward: Pedagogies that Promote and Create a Radical Science for Health Justice”. You can find a link to our presentation slides here. If you are interested in making a tiny Tiny zine Zine, please find the template here.

Zine resources and zines that inspired us:

Bagelman, J. and C. Bagelman. 2016. “Zines: Crafting Change and Repurposing the Neoliberal University”. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies 15 (2), 365-92. Open access PDF.

Department Organizing

Current departmental priorities include:

  • Ensure the Steve Wing memorial lecture occurs, and provide input on speakers.
  • Speak up for inclusion in the epidemiology PhD curriculum on the importance of supporting community-based participatory research; history, philosophy, and critical epidemiology theory; and social justice values at curricula meetings and with the chair.
  • Listening for opportunities to provide input in the new One MPH curricula, especially as it relates to critical epidemiology & social justice.
  • Support the Social Epidemiology PhD curricula where possible to include relevant critical race theory and social justice values.

History of the Group

This group, in its current incarnation, grew from student organizing inspired by the work of Steve Wing, involved in community supportive epidemiology and justice research for decades. Students connected with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network (NCEJN) through Steve, and supported research collaborations with communities and the UNC Center for Civil Rights. When the UNC Center for Civil Rights came under attack for providing legal assistance to low-income communities and communities of color, students gathered signatures and support, and are continuing to connect research projects to the now separated Julius Chambers Center for Civil Rights. After Steve Wing’s passing in 2016 and in light of the attacks on the UNC Center for Civil Rights, students met separately with Epidemiology chair Andy Olshan and Dean Barbara Rimer to express concern about these gaps in our curriculum, request support for the center, and advocate for hiring and curriculum priorities. Students formed an informal environmental justice research group, continuing previous community projects and envisioning new ones with community groups. Outside of direct environmental justice, students organized student support and response after the original Women’s March on Washington. Students have learned from the efforts of the Equity Collective, a Health Behavior Department student organization, and hope to act to continue to address similar concerns in our department alongside them. After wide student organizing (including one-on-one conversations, surveys and group meetings), faculty discussed how race was taught in the core methods curriculum, and students explored research with faculty that might inform the teaching of disparities here at UNC Epidemiology.

Past Events:

Spring 2021


When Where (Zoom Link) What
April 15, 11am Zoom Planning meeting

Discussion of Epi and Justice’s future and leadership transitions

April 15, 2pm Register here:

4th Annual Steve Wing Environmental Justice Lecture, presented by Dr. Jill Johnston, on Thursday, April 15th 2021 at 2pm. Email if you would like to join a small group Zoom discussion/”lunch” with Dr. Jill Johnston at noon on April 15th.

April 19, 3pm Zoom

Seminaren’t on Managing Public Response to Our Research

Panelists: Dr. Mary Schubauer-Berigan (IARC), Dr. Tania Desrosiers (UNC-CH), & Dr. David Richardson (UNC-CH)

Question submission:



Fall 2020

Anti-Racist Research Discussion Group on Zoom
  • August topic: Positionality // Monday, August 24, 4pm-5pm
  • September topic: Objectivity // Monday, September 21, 4pm-5pm
  • October topic: Burden of proof // Monday, October 19, 4pm-5pm
  • November topic: TBD (we’ll choose a topic based on the first 3 discussions!) // Monday, November 16, 4pm-5pm
Please join the Epi & Justice Group for a monthly informal conversation about conducting anti-racist research. Each month, we will host a discussion focused on a different theme related to how we approach and frame our research. Prior to each meeting, we will send out an optional short article to provide a touchstone for the conversation. However, we encourage people to attend whether or not they read the article – the discussions will be facilitated so that people can participate by drawing on examples from their experiences conducting research, their coursework, and their community participation, in addition to the chosen article reading. We hope these discussions will provide a casual setting to connect with other people who are interested in anti-racist research and a space to help us all think critically about how to apply anti-racist frameworks to epidemiological research.
We will meet monthly on Monday from 4-5pm on Zoom. This shortened link will redirect you to the zoom meeting:

Summer 2020

This summer we are working on compiling a syllabus for a justice-centered epidemiology class.

When Where What
Mon, Jun 1, 4pm Zoom Working Group Meeting – work on syllabus
Mon, July 6 4pm Zoom Working Group Meeting – work on syllabus
Mon, Aug 3, 4pm Zoom Working Group Meeting – work on syllabus



When Where What
Thurs, Sept 12, 4pm TRU

114 Henderson St

Journal Club – Activist/Action-Based Scholarship

 Hale, CR. What is activist research? Social Science Research Council. 2001.

Thurs, Sept 26, 1:30pm Carolina Square* 2nd floor kitchen Working Group Meeting
Thurs, Oct 10, 4pm Mayes Center (230 Rosenau Hall) Seminaren’t: Panel on Failures in Successful Public Health Careers

Panelists: Dr. Charlie Poole, Dr. David Richardson, & Dr. Meghan Shanahan

Thurs, Oct 24, 4pm Carolina Square* 3004 Working Group Meeting
Fri, Nov 8, 12-2pm 322 MacNider Hall (School of Medicine) Public Health Ethics and Epidemiology Workshop 

Dr. Jim Thomas (Associate Professor in Epidemiology and international expert in public health ethics) will facilitate this discussion-based workshop using a public health case study and provide a landscape overview of ethics to describe ethical theories, and their relation to public health and epidemiology. Participants will leave the workshop having gained language on public health ethics to enable future discussions as epidemiologists and researchers.
If interested: fill out a registration form by Monday, November 4th.
Thurs, Nov 14, 4pm MHRC 2005 Journal Club: Social epidemiology and causal inference

Galea S, Hernan MA. Win-win: Reconciling Social Epidemiology and Causal Inference. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2019.

Robinson WR, Bailey ZD. What social epidemiology brings to the table: reconciling social epidemiology and causal inference. American Journal of Epidemiology, 2019.


Winter Break
Wed, Jan 22, 6pm Open Eye Cafe

101 S Greensboro St

Working Group Meeting
Wed, Feb 19, 5pm MHRC 2005 Working Group Meeting
Mon, May 11, 11am Zoom Working Group Meeting (discuss future of group during COVID-19 times)

*Carolina Square is located at 123 W. Franklin Street


When Where What
Wed Aug 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm TRU Deli Start of the Year Meeting
Fri Sep 7, 2018 at 3:30pm UNC SPH – MHRC 2005 Journal Club: The limits of epidemiology
(1) “Epidemiology Is a Science of High Importance.” Nature Communications 9, no. 1 (December 2018).
(2) Wing, Steve 1994. ‘Limits of Epidemiology.’ Medicine and Global Survival 1: 74–86.
Wed Sep 26, 2018 at 4:45pm UNC SPH – MHRC 3005 Journal Club: Critical Race Theory
(1) Ford, Chandra L., and Collins O. Airhihenbuwa. Commentary: Just What is Critical Race Theory and What’s it Doing in a Progressive Field like Public Health?“. Ethnicity & Disease 28, no. Supp 1 (August 8, 2018): 223. Muhammad, Michael, E. Hill De Loney, Cassandra L. Brooks, Shervin Assari, DeWaun Robinson, and Cleopatra H. Caldwell. “I think that’s all a lie…I think It’s genocide”: Applying a Critical Race Praxis to Youth Perceptions of Flint Water Contamination. Ethnicity & Disease 28, no. Supp 1 (August 8, 2018): 241. issue is on critical race theory and public health:
Oct 5, 2018 at 3:30pm TBD (off campus) Working Group / Braintrust
Wed Oct 24, 2018 at 4:45pm UNC SPH – MHRC 2005 Seminaren’t: Panel on Failures in Successful Public Health Careers
Panel: Dr. Julie Daniels, Dr. Audrey Pettifor, Dr. Whitney Robinson
Fri Nov 2 at 3:30pm Steel String Brewery Working Group / Braintrust
Wed Nov 28, 2018 at 4:45pm UNC SPH – Rosenau 228 Seminaren’t: Epidemiology from other Academic Disciplines
Panel: Dr. Danielle Purifoy & Dr. Geni Eng
Fri Dec 7 at 3:30pm Blue Dogwood on Franklin St. Working Group / Braintrust
Winter Break
Fri Jan 25, 2019 at 10:00 am UNC SPH – Room TBD Journal Club in collaboration with ENVR Epi: Race, ancestry, and lung function

1.  Braun, L. (2015). Race, ethnicity and lung function: a brief history. Canadian journal of respiratory therapy: CJRT= Revue canadienne de la therapie respiratoire: RCTR51(4), 99.

2.  Kumar, R., Seibold, M. A., Aldrich, M. C., Williams, L. K., Reiner, A. P., Colangelo, L., … & Choudhry, S. (2010). Genetic ancestry in lung-function predictions. New England Journal of Medicine363(4), 321-330.

 Thu, Jan 31, 2019 at 6:00 pm Libby’s House (email for directions) Working Group/Zine Making
 Weds, Feb 27, 2019 at 4:45 pm UNC SPH – Rosenau 228 Seminaren’t: Epidemiology from Outside Academia
Panel Q&A discussion on interactions with epidemiology as a field and epidemiologists as well as focusing on the gaps and contributions of epidemiology to action and policy. Elizabeth Haddix (Julius Chambers Center for Civil Rights, Attorney), Jamie Cole (North Carolina Conservation Network, Policy Manager), Anna Austin (UNC Gillings SPH, PhD Maternal and Child Health Student).
Fri, Mar 1, 2019 at 3:30pm TBD (off campus) Working Group/Braintrust
Weds, Mar 27, 2019 at 4:45 pm, 6pm Carolina Square 2nd floor cafe Journal Club: Public Health Ethics (4:45pm)


Working Group/Zine Making (6pm)

Fri, Apr 5, 2019 at 3:30pm TBD (off campus) Working Group/Braintrust
Weds, Apr 17, 2019 at 4:45 pm UNC SPH – Rosenau 228 Seminaren’t – Panel on Public Health Ethics

Panelists: Dr. Courtney Woods (SPH-ESE), Dr. Jim Thomas (SPH-EPID), Ms. Naeema Muhammad (NCEJN), Dr. Stuart Rennie (SoM-Social Medicine)

Details: An informal discussion of public health ethics. We’ll dedicate about 5 minutes per panelist at the beginning of the session, and the rest of the time will be for Q&A with attendees — likely PhD students from epidemiology. In our meetings, epidemiology students have expressed interest in learning and thinking more about public health ethics — a topic not well covered in our general curriculum. Example topics of interest include the code of public health ethics; inclusion/exclusion of vulnerable populations in biomedical research (e.g., prisoners, children, pregnant women), the ethics of community-engaged research, and the implications for generalizability and policy change, etc.

Fri, May 3, 2019 at 3:30pm TRU Deli & Wine

114 Henderson St., Chapel Hill

End-of-year meeting

We will talk about future plans for the Zine, discuss future journal clubs and seminaren’ts, and brainstorm future plans for our group.




  • The Spirit of 1848 Listserv is an officially recognized caucus of the American Public Health Association, and has an active listserv worth joining for those interested in public health and social justice.
    Per the website: “The Spirit of 1848 e-mail community serves an activist network of people concerned about social inequalities in health, in the US and other countries. Linking politics, passion, and public health, we are organized as an official Caucus of the American Public Health Association. Our work focuses on: politics of public health data; curriculum and progressive pedagogy; e-networking; and progressive public health history.”