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Dr. Erika Blacksher

Erika Blacksher, PhD
Associate Professor

Office: A-204A-P Health Sciences Building
Phone: 206-685-9532

Recent Publications | Recent Talks |Courses | Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Erika Blacksher, PhD, is Associate Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington. Her research examines the ethical and policy dimensions of social inequalities in health as they relate to health promotion policy, U.S. health system reform, theories of social justice, and deliberative approaches to advancing health equity. Her scholarship addresses topics in the health responsibility debate, the demands of justice in public health, public deliberation in public health policy, and social values as social determinants of population health. She has long been committed to community-based participatory bioethics, creating and contributing to innovative programs to engage diverse audiences (from lay citizens to state legislators) in dialogue about contentious bioethical issues. Her annually offered Fall course, Social Justice and Health, examines the moral grounds for the view that social inequalities in health are unjust. Her Spring course, When Life Makes You Sick, examines ethical questions that confront health care workers serving poor and minority patient populations. The formal training and experience that prepared Blacksher for this work include completing a PhD and MA in bioethics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, two years as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar at Columbia University in New York City, 3 years as a research scholar for public health ethics and policy at The Hastings Center in Garrison, New York, and 5 years at The Center for Practical Bioethics, a community-based bioethics center in Kansas City, Mo. Blacksher has two undergraduate degrees, one in philosophy and the other in journalism, from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Select Recent Publications:

  • Blacksher E. Ethical Tools to Promote Health in the 21st Century: An Argument Against Stigma. In The Handbook of Stigma, Discrimination and Health, Link B, Dovidio J, Major B., eds. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press forthcoming 2017), in press.
  • Case Studies in Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe (Spring Press, 2016) available at
  • Blacksher E. Obesity Prevention in Children: Media Campaigns, Stigma, and Ethical Considerations. Springer Press online version now
  • Blacksher E, Goold SD. Black-White Infant Mortality: Disparities, Priorities, and Social Justice in Public Health.
  • Blacksher E, Maree G, Schrandt S, Soderquist C, Steffensmeier T, St. Peter R. Health Policy, Ethics, and the Kansas Legislative Health Academy. Am J Public Health 2015;105:485-489. doi:10.2105/AJPH
  • Brazg T, Dotolo D, Blacksher E. Finding a Seat at the Table for Social Work: Recommendations for Broadening the Scope of Bioethics. Bioethics July 26, 2014. doi:10.1111/bioe.12106
  • Blacksher E. Participatory and Deliberative Practices in Health: Meanings, Distinctions, and Implications for Health Equity. Journal of Public Deliberation 2013,9;1:
  • Abelson J, Blacksher E, S. Boesveld, Goold SD, Li K. Public Deliberation in Health Policy and Bioethics: Mapping an Emerging, Interdisciplinary Field. Journal of Public Deliberation 2013,9;1:
  • Blacksher E. Redistribution and Recognition: Pursing Social Justice in Public Health. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 21;3(2012):320-331.
  • Blacksher E, Diebel A, Forest PG, Goold SD, Abelson J. et al. What Is Public Deliberation? Hastings Center Report 42;2(2012):14-17.
  • Blacksher E, Lovasi G. Place-Focused Physical Activity Research, Human Agency, and Social Justice in Public Health: Taking Agency Seriously in Studies of the Built Environment. Health & Place 2011, doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.018.019
  • Blacksher E, Rigby E, Espey C. Public Values, Health Inequality, and Alternative Notions of a “Fair” Response. Journal of Health, Politics, Policy, and Law 35;6(2010):889-920.
  • Blacksher E. Health Reform and Health Equity: Sharing Responsibility for Health in the United States. Hofstra L Rev 39(2010):41-58.
  • Blacksher E. Health: The Value at Stake. Hastings Center Report, Special Supplement (2009):27-29.
  • Blacksher E. Children’s Health Inequalities: Ethical and Political Challenges to Seeking Social Justice. Hastings Center Report 38;4(2008):28-35.
  • Blacksher E. Carrots and Sticks to Promote Healthy Behaviors: A Policy Update. Hastings Center Report 38;3(2008):13-16.
  • Blacksher E. Healthcare Disparities: The Salience of Social Class. Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 17;2(2008):143-153.

Select Invited Talks and Seminars

  • “Ethical Tools to Promote Health in the 21st century: An Argument Against Stigma.”  34th International Academy of Law and Mental Health, Vienna, Austria. July 2015.
  • “Public Health Ethics.” Keynote Address. Governor’s Public Health Conference. Wichita, Kansas. April 29, 2015.
  • “The Great Society, Social Determinants, and the Poor State of Americans Health: Ethical Considerations.” Medical Center Hour. University of Virginia School of Medicine. Charlottesville, Virginia. February 11, 2015.
  • “Public Health and Social Justice: Should Stigma Be Used as Policy Tool to Tackle Obesity?” Center for Population Health, Harvard University. Boston, Massachusetts. December 4, 2014.
  • “Collective Responsibility for Health: The Promise of a Social Connection Model.” American Public Health Association. Annual Meeting. New Orleans, Louisiana, November 18, 2014.
  • “Health vs. Health Care Disparities: A Distinction and Why It Matters.” Panelist, Social Justice: The Best Preventative Medicine, Gitenstein Institute for Health Law and Policy Leaders in Health Series. Hofstra University. Hempstead, New York. October 16, 2013.
  • “Health Equity, Public Values, and Public Deliberation.” McMaster University, Centre for Health Economics and Policy Analysis Seminar. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. February 21, 2012.
  • “Making Marginalized Voices Count in Public Policy.” Panelist. 9th Annual Trudeau Foundation Conference on Public Policy: The Common Good: Who Decides? Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. November 23, 2012.
  • “Health Reform and Health Equity: Sharing Responsibility for Health in the United States.” Hofstra University, New Directions in American Health Care: Innovations from Home and Abroad Conference. Hempstead, New Jersey. March 11-12, 2010.
  • “Deliberative and Participatory Processes in Public Health: A Comparative and Ethical Assessment.” University of Michigan, Public Deliberation, Ethics, and Health Policy: Advancing a New Research Field. Ann Arbor, Michigan. September 10-11, 2010.
  • “Reorienting U.S. Health Reform Toward Health for All.” Rethinking Healthcare Conference, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, October 14, 2009.
  • “Distributive Equity and Equal Recognition: Demands of and Challenges to Social Justice in Public Health. American Public Health Association, Annual Meeting. Denver, Colorado. November 9, 2010.
  • The Poor State of Americans’ Health and Health Care: A Matter of Social Justice.” Kansas Health Ethics, Statewide Conference. Wichita, Kansas. April 3, 2009.
  • “The Ethics of Healthy Behavior Programs.” Center for Bioethics Summer Intern Seminar Series. Yale University. New Haven, Connecticut. June 30, 2009.
  • “When Life Makes You Sick: The Social Determinants of Health and the Ethical Implications for Health Care.” Ethics Night. Brown University. Providence, Rhode Island. January 14, 2009.


B H 456/ B H 556, Social Justice and Health

B H 509, When Life Makes You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health

BH 527, Methods in Bioethics


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