Monday, September 16, 2013

A homecoming, both familiar and new

Greetings! My name is Kari (Burke) and I am a native of Syracuse, but have spent the last 13 years living and working in sunny San Diego, California. I am so pleased to be enrolled in this class, as I have been a bit of a Luddite when it comes to social media and I believe it is a promising medium for democratizing decision making in our public institutions.  I am equally grateful to be pursing an EMPA at Maxwell, as the abundant diversity of perspectives and the expertise and experience of faculty and students alike promises a rich learning environment. 

My professional background is in public health, primarily managing community-based, behavioral research studies funded by the NIH, CDC or state agencies. What does that mean? Well, obesity for example, is one of the many factors driving the increased prevalence of chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease, cancer). Behavioral and social sciences research considers some aspect of human behavior (e.g. why are some people successful in losing weight...) often in in the context of their family, organization, or community ( communities with lots of fast food restaurants?). 

Public health is a multidisciplinary and collaborative field, as many of the issues we address are rather complex. My desire is to learn more about the ways that technology can bridge the divide between public health research and practice, institutions and communities; whether increasing participation and collaboration on the priorities and conduct of research, dissemination of findings and best practices, public policy formation, or increasing institutional transparency.

In that vein, I'd like to propose a final project topic. Under "Obamacare" some states are establishing exchanges where individuals can purchase health insurance beginning Oct 1. The proposal is to design a social marketing campaign for a state-wide campaign (e.g. NY State's Exchange, known as NY State of Health. Young people are a key demographic for this initiative, being relatively healthy with lower utilization rates, their enrollment will subsidize the costs of heavy users (elderly, disabled, chronically ill, etc). Let me know if you're interested and we can possibly form a group, or feel free to propose another topic. 

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