Past Director’s Letters
S. Bryn Austin, ScD
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