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Dr. Erika Blacksher

Erika Blacksher, PhD
Assistant Professor

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

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

Erika Blacksher, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington. Her research examines the ethical and policy implications of the social determinants of and social inequalities in health, particularly as they relate to U.S. health system reform, the ethics of health promotion, theories of social justice, and participatory and deliberative approaches to public engagement. She has long been committed to community-based participatory bioethics, creating and contributing to numerous innovative programs to engage various audiences (from lay citizens to state legislators) in moral dialogue about contentious ethical issues.

Her scholarship addresses a range of topics including, recently, the health responsibility debate, disparities in children’s developmental health, public deliberation in bioethics and public health, and public values regarding social inequalities in health. Two courses she created and loves to teach every year include Social Justice and Health (BH456/556), which examines the moral grounds for the view that social inequalities in health are unjust, and When Life Makes You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health (BH509), which engages health professions and graduate level social work students in ethical questions that confront health care workers serving poor and minority patient populations.  

The formal training and experience that prepared Blacksher for this work includes completing a PhD and MA in bioethics at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, two years as a Robert Wood Johnson 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’s undergraduate degrees are in philosophy and journalism from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Select Recent Publications:

  • Blacksher E. Obesity Prevention in Children: Media Campaigns, Stigma, and Ethical Considerations. Global Perspectives on Public Health Ethics: A Casebook, forthcoming 2014.
  • Blacksher E, Goold SD. Black-White Infant Mortality: Disparities, Priorities, and Social Justice in Public Health. Global Perspectives on Public Health Ethics: A Casebook, forthcoming 2014.
  • 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, 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

  • 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. 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. Yale University, Center for Bioethics Summer Intern Seminar Series, 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.


BH 456, Social Justice and Health

BH 597, When Life Makes You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health

BH 527, Methods in Bioethics


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