Steve Wing Delivers Inaugural Slesinger Lecture on Community Health

This spring, we were delighted to host Steve Wing, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for the inaugural Doris Slesinger Annual Lecture. This event honors the career of Doris Slesinger, former professor of Rural Sociology and chair from 1987-1991. A social demographer, Doris’s research focused on the plight of marginalized populations. She is especially well known for her work on the health status of migrant farmworkers in Wisconsin. The departments of Community & Environmental Sociology and Family Medicine have established this lecture series to honor her legacy of research in health and social justice, and to stimulate campus-wide discussion of the principles of community engagement that are enshrined in the Wisconsin Idea and institutionalized at the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

We could find no better speaker to initiate this lecture series than Steve Wing. Steve is an epidemiologist who is deeply committed to community-driven participatory research and environmental justice. For the past 15 years, he has worked in partnership with the Concerned Citizens of Tillery to document the negative impact of intensive livestock operations on poor communities in the rural south. This work has unequivocally linked exposure to animal feedlot operations to a range of adverse health outcomes and diminished quality of life, and demonstrated that poor communities and communities of color bear a disproportionate burden of these injustices. Advocates have used these findings to press for policy changes in the siting of new hog waste facilities in the state. Steve has withstood significant pressure from powerful industry advocates to curtail the scope and impact of his research. He is both an outstanding scientist and an outspoken advocate for social justice. During his visit, Steve gave a public lecture on community-based participatory research and environmental justice, and spoke with many of our graduate students, individually and in small groups, about their research plans.

This event was co-sponsored by the Doris P. Slesinger Fund in the Department of Community & Environmental Sociology, the Department of Family Medicine, and the University Lectures Fund.

Miss the lecture? Watch it on the SMPH’s IME video library website at:

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