Past Director’s Letters

Spring 2013

Greetings and welcome to the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders. It seems like yesterday when we launched STRIPED, fueled by hope, hard work, and the generous support of Ellen Feldberg Gordon to pursue our goal of jump starting graduate-level public health training in eating disorders prevention. It was exciting to see but, in the early days, still too untested to know if we could succeed. Now flash forward as we near the four-year mark: We are not just succeeding, we are thriving.

This year alone, we added four outstanding scholars to our team:

  • Faculty Jerel Calzo, PhD: Specializes in male eating disorders, masculinity norms, and sexual orientation health disparities.
  • Affiliated Faculty in Health Law Jennifer Pomeranz, JD, MPH: National leader in legal strategies to solve public health problems.
  • Visiting Scholar Christina Roberto, PhD: Focuses on novel policy approaches to health promotion.
  • Collaborating Mentor Davene Wright, PhD: Expert in economic and decision analysis methods for health promotion planning.

A sign of STRIPED’s growth and broadening appeal, this year we are enjoying an uptick in students from around the globe, including South Korea, China, and Chile. Also, with 10 trainees, we now have more on board than ever before, and this spring we are celebrating our second doctoral graduate.

So what’s our appeal? If I had to point to one thing, I’d say it’s our inquiry-centered training model. We don’t teach through traditional, expert-down instruction. With STRIPED — in the words of pioneering educator Donald Finkel — “It is the inquiry that teaches,” inspiring us in our common quest. Everything we do is organized first around one question: “How can we create a society where girls and boys alike can grow up at home in their own bodies?” From this flow all our follow-up questions, the ones that shape and give meaning to each of our many projects. Shared inquiry is at the heart of our STRIPED community.

-S. Bryn Austin, ScD

Fall 2011

S. Bryn Austin, ScD

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Greetings and welcome to the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders. Three years since we took our first tentative steps, we now have our feet firmly on the ground. If you are new to STRIPED or a returning reader, spending a few minutes looking through our website should give you a good a sense of what we’ve been up to lately. Our mission statement should give you a sense of why we are so committed to preventing eating disorders and problems with food, weight, and appearance and to achieving equity for all girls and boys in our society.

Another crucial aspect of STRIPED is our philosophy about learning and education. After all, our raison d’être is transdisciplinary, transformative training – training our nation’s future leaders in public health and adolescent medicine also to be national leaders in public health approaches to eating disorders prevention. My own philosophy of teaching and mentoring has been deeply influenced by the work of Dr. Ellen Langer, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. In her book The Power of Mindful Learning, Dr. Langer exhorts us to find ways to step off the rails of routinized trains of thought, to question what we “know” so that we can bring new perspectives and solutions to conditions we have reflexively assumed to be inevitable. She writes:

“How can we know if we do not ask? Why should we ask if we are certain we know? All answers come  out of the question. If we pay attention to our questions, we increase the power of mindful learning…. When we are mindful, we recognize that the way in which we tend to construct our world is only one construction among many. We might consider reconstructing this world….”

With STRIPED, we don’t know all the answers as how to prevent eating disorders and problems with food, weight and appearance. We don’t profess to. What we do know is how to think about what we know and what we need to know to. How to ask questions that will make a difference.

-S. Bryn Austin, ScD