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Dr. Erika Blacksher

Erika Blacksher, PhD
Associate Professor

Office: A20-P Health Sciences Building
Phone: 206-685-9532
Email: eb2010@u.washington.edu

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. She studies ethical issues in population health, with focus on health inequalities, children’s health and development, population health policy, and participatory and deliberative approaches to advancing health equity. She conducts both normative and empiric research. Her normative scholarship explores the health responsibility debate, the demands of justice in public health, public deliberation, and social values as social determinants of population health. Blacksher’s current empiric research examines deliberative approaches to engagement of populations burdened by health disparities on issues of population health policy and practice.


  • Population Health Ethics - health inequalities, children’s health and development, and population health policy
  • Engagement Science – participatory and deliberative approaches to engagement of populations burdened by health disparities on issues of population health policy, genomic research, and clinical practice

Each year she teaches:

  • Social Justice and Health, examines the moral grounds for the view that social inequalities in health are unjust
  • When Life Makes You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health, examines ethical questions that confront health care workers serving poor and minority patient populations whose capacity for health and recovery from disease are compromised by the social conditions and contexts in which they grow up, live, work, play, and age
  • Population Bioethics, a survey course that introduces students to ethical issues in population and public health ethics

Prior Experience, Training, Education:

  • Research Scholar, Public Health Ethics and Policy, The Hastings Center, Garrison, NY (2008 – 2010)
    • Associate Editor, Hastings Center Report, The Hastings Center (1995-1998)
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholar, Columbia University, NYC, NY (2006-2008)
  • Deputy Director, Program Associate, The Center for Practical Bioethics, Kansas City, Missouri (1998-2003
  • PhD, MA, Religious Studies (Bioethics) University of Virginia, Charlottesville
  • BA, Philosophy; BS, Journalism, University of Kansas, Lawrence
  • Blacksher is a first generation high school graduate

Select Publications:

  • Blacksher E. Shrinking Poor White Lifespans. American Journal of Bioethics, accepted April 2018, forthcoming
  • Adams C, Blacksher E, Burke W. Using the Precautionary Principle to Motivate Shared Responsibility for Shift Work. Public Health Ethics, accepted February 24, 2018, published online March 2018, Available at: https://academic.oup.com/phe/advance-article/doi/10.1093/phe/phy005/4930654?guestAccessKey=99851309-6818-4a3f-9e07-607e862a9dee
  • West KM, Blacksher E, Burke W. Genomics, Health Disparities, and Missed Opportunities for the Nation’s Research Agenda. JAMA 2017;317(18): 1831-1832. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.3096
  • 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 2017).
  • Blacksher E, Nelson C, Van Dyke ER, Bassett D, Echo-Hawk AL, Buchwald DS. Conversations about Community-Based Participatory Research and Trust: “We Are Explorers Together” Prog Community Health Partnersh 2016;10(2):305-9. PMID: 27346777. DOI: 1353/cpr.2016.0039.
  • Blacksher E. Obesity Prevention in Children: Media Campaigns, Stigma, and Ethical Considerations. Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe (Spring Press, 2016), http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319238463
  • Blacksher E, Goold SD. Black-White Infant Mortality: Disparities, Priorities, and Social Justice in Public Health. Public Health Ethics: Cases Spanning the Globe (Spring Press, 2016), http://www.springer.com/us/book/9783319238463
  • 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: http://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol9/iss1/art6.
  • 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:http://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol9/iss1/art5.
  • 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.
  • Blacksher E. On Being Poor and Feeling Poor: Low SES and the Moral Self. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2002;23(6):455-470.

Select Invited Talks and Conference Papers

  • “Shrinking Poor White Lifespans: Class, Race, and Health Justice” West Coast Poverty Center Seminar Series, April 30, 2018.
  • “Social Values, Population Health Policy, and Public Public Deliberation.” Understanding Health Values Across Diverse Communities Panel. Sharing Knowledge to Build a Culture of Health Conference. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation/AcademyHealth. February 23, 2017.
  • “Deliberative Processes in the Health Arena: Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity.” Center for Bioethics and Humanities. University of Colorado. January 12, 2017.
  • "Rethinking Responsibility for Health: A Social Connection Model." The Sickness of Society: What Kind of Inequality Matters for Health? Benjamin Rabinowitz Workshop. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. April 29, 2016.
  • "Translating Science and Health Policy in Polarized Political Contexts. RWJF Health & Society Scholars at Columbia University, Final Mini-Conference. Columbia University Population Research Center. April 21, 2016.
  •  “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 201, Population Bioethics
B H 456/ B H 556, Social Justice and Health
B H 409/ B H 509, When Life Make
s You Sick: Ethics and the Social Determinants of Health


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