MARK EDBERG, PhD, MA
I am an applied and academic anthropologist with more than 25 years’ experience in social research and program development/implementation, primarily in public health. I am currently an Associate Professor in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University, with secondary appointments in the Department of Anthropology and the Elliott School of International Affairs. In this capacity I am Director of the NIH-funded Avance Center for the Advancement of Immigrant/Refugee Health (and Principal Investigator/PI of a CDC REACH grant for the Avance Center) which addresses multiple health disparities, and Director of the global-oriented Center for Social Well-Being and Development (UNICEF projects in Belize, South Africa, Indonesia, Jamaica, and Ghana). I also led the qualitative team for a Gates Foundation social network applied research effort in Ethiopia. I have significant previous experience in applied and academic efforts. Recent projects and activities include the following: In 2015 I was an invited fellow for the Salzburg Global Seminar in Salzburg, Austria (funded by the Guggenheim and Carnegie foundations); I was co-chair of the 2014 International Symposium on Minority Health and Health Disparities (funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities), I was PI for the SAFER Latinos youth violence prevention project (funded by CDC), predecessor of the Avance Center; PI on an effort for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families to develop a protective factor framework for use in program planning and evaluation with their at-risk populations; Co-PI on an evaluation of a positive youth intervention for girls in juvenile detention; Co-PI on a CDC national expert panel project (with DSG, Inc.) assessing links between macroeconomic factors and youth violence; Co-PI on a research and evaluation effort concerning a sexual exploitation and trafficking prevention program; and lead consultant to UNICEF Latin America-Caribbean and UNICEF Central on the development and application of adolescent/youth well-being indicators.
Sample previous projects: Lead Investigator for a SAMHSA-funded community assessment of (minority) youth at risk for HIV/AIDS, STIs, hepatitis and substance abuse in Washington, DC.; Director or Co-Director of multiple evaluation projects for the U.S. Office of Minority Health; Co-PI on a NIDA-funded effort to investigate substance use and HIV risk in three Southeast Asian populations; ethnographer on a U.S.-Mexico border study on narcotraffickers and media; Co-PI on a NIDA-funded HIV risk prevention effort for injection drug and crack users; ethnographer on a NIDA-funded study of HIV risk and substance use among runaway youth; and multiple other projects. I have authored four books and one edited volume, as well as multiple articles in journals such as Human Organization, the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research, the Journal of Youth Studies, Health Promotion Practice, Social Marketing Quarterly, Journal of Primary Prevention, Journal of Health Communication, Journal of Youth Development, the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Anthropological Quarterly, and others. I am also a recipient of the 2013 Praxis award for excellence in applied anthropology, a former Fulbright Senior Specialist awardee, and a Fellow of the Society for Applied Anthropology. I hold a PhD in Cultural Anthropology (University of Virginia, 2000), an MA in Applied Anthropology (American University, 1989), and an MA in International Affairs (UCLA, 1982), and I teach courses in qualitative research, social/behavioral theory, and culture and health.
I would be pleased and honored to serve on the SfAA Board, for several reasons. One is that I have been a dedicated, applied anthropologist for more than 25 years, and I am committed to giving back to the field. Second, I am also an academic anthropologist, and as such “have a foot in both worlds,” which, I believe, will be a highly useful background to have on the board. Until 2003, after a short stint as a journalist, I worked primarily at private research and technical assistance organizations that developed and conducted program evaluations, developed planning and strategic frameworks, and provided technical assistance to community programs focused on public health and social well-being – primarily for a range of Federal agencies, and working with populations that were marginalized or disproportionately affected by a range of health issues. From 2003, I moved to an academic setting at George Washington University, as an anthropologist based in the public health school. The research and interventions I conduct, and the two centers I direct (one funded by NIH and CDC, the second global-oriented center primarily through UNICEF), still focus on social research and projects that are applied, addressing specific problems. In these projects, we continue to collaborate with communities, both in a domestic U.S. and global context. The Avance Center, for example, has been working together with one immigrant Central American community for 12 years, addressing a range of health disparities and their contributing factors. The global center I chartered (the Center for Social Well-Being and Development) began as a result of an ongoing collaboration I had with UNICEF in the Latin America-Caribbean office and with UNICEF Belize, and through the center that collaboration has now expanded to several other global projects, including in West Africa and Southeast Asia, as well as the Caribbean. In the academic setting, I also have the opportunity to take theories and methods from anthropology and incorporate them in teaching public health students, in courses on qualitative research methods, social/behavioral theory, and culture and health. To further the application of anthropology in public health training, I have written two textbooks for use in public health coursework, one on social/behavioral theory and the other on culture and health.
In short, my “binary background” in applied and academic anthropology is not really binary at all, but integrated, and it is this perspective which I hope to bring to my role on the SfAA board. A sample of ways in which I hope to translate that perspective includes the following: 1) development and support for activities that bring applied and academic anthropologists together around particular problems (in issue or problem-oriented fora, for example); 2) development and dissemination of promotion and tenure criteria in anthropology and other departments where anthropologists are situated (e.g., public health, education/human development, environmental studies, global development, medical schools) that recognize practice as well as the types of publications associated with such practice; and 3) finding ways to highlight the kinds of practice-oriented theory that is developed in the field, and, conversely, the ways in which anthropological theory is tested in practice -- and potentially modified.