Just Health in Religion: A Collaborative Research Network

Thank you for your interest in a new collaborative research network on health and justice in religious history! Launched in 2017, the network was inspired by funding from the 2016 Grawemeyer Award in Religion, and developed by Dr. Susan Holman, to build on the ideas of the award-winning book, Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights (Oxford 2015). Below is a brief summary.


The mission of the Just Health in Religion Network is to highlight, identify, and encourage hope in and for justice-inspired religious ideas and efforts within academic research that seeks to understand and nurture narratives and action for global healing, health justice, and equity in health care delivery.


What is “just health”?

Just health, as used in this project, means attention to health, disease, and health care provision that is “just”, which the dictionary defines as: morally right or righteous; impartial, giving everyone fair due; unbiased; faithful or honorable in social relations; in accordance with principles of moral right or equity; fair, deserved; merited; lawful; full, proper, and complete.

What is the Just Health in Religion Network?

The Just Health in Religion Network is an informational academic resource (see mission statement) that seeks to encourage and connect informal associations of scholars, faith-based groups, and activists who are engaged in both individual and collective efforts that demonstrate and practice a vision of world-healing activities informed by both the sciences and the arts.

What does the Network fund?

The Just Health in Religion Network is not (presently) an external source of funding. It also–very intentionally–does not seek to garner funding that might better be used to advance practical action and health care resources for those who need it.

What is the Network’s institutional affil


The Just Health in Religion Network is at present a ‘newborn’ entity without a formal institutional affiliation. It is born out of one religion-and-health scholar’s research vision, expertise, and experiences. The Network aims to ‘grow into’ an eventual formal affiliation with an academic research institution. While the energies that shape the vision of the Network are informed and influenced by academic friends, associates, and experiences in religion, global health, and human rights at Harvard University, and by colleagues engaged in related collaborations and research across a range of schools in the US, Canada, and Western Europe, the Network has no formal affiliation with Harvard nor with any of these other schools. Indeed, it aims to fill a gap that is not yet addressed (to my knowledge) by any existing academic efforts at any institution.

What does the Network ‘do’?

In its early weeks, the Just Health in Religion Network is engaged in systematic indexing of two existing websites (PovertyStudies and the “Jottings” blog of Ptochotrophia) and related materials, in order to collate material and information about existing organizations, projects, scholars, and related resources into online practical guides that might help networking research colleagues. The Network invites interest and information from relevant scholars and academic organizations.

Should a formal academic affiliation be identified as a “home” for the Just Health in Religion Network, it would enable conversations to prioritize collaborative ‘real-life’ activities. These might include, for example: fostering graduate research across the disciplines of religion, global/public health, health justice, and/or the history of medicine; symposia and publication projects; sponsoring discussion groups and career advising/mentoring at the intersection of health and religion; and related scholarship and classroom activities.

What is the Network’s religious affiliation?

The Just Health in Religion Network is an academic endeavor; it is not a religious entity. Since personal views inevitably shape how we see the world, it is valuable here to note that the vision is shaped by Dr. Holman’s personal religious affiliations within the liturgical communities of the Christian tradition. However, both Dr. Holman’s research and the vision of the Network consider how any and all perspectives that self-identify as ‘religion’ shape beliefs about and action on social justice that advances global health equity. This means that religious resources identified across the Just Health in Religion Network will include those from many religious traditions, including (but not limited to) Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism

What is the Network’s political affiliation?

As an academic entity, the Just Health in Religion Network has no political affiliation. It encourages connections across all political affiliations, particularly those research bodies or persons who share a vision for affirming health equity, an understanding of health as a universal human rights in accord with both religious traditions and the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and a commitment to the potentially constructive role of religion and religious cross-disciplinary collaborations in nurturing and advancing the healing of the world.

How can I learn more?

For now, please use the “Search” window at the “Jottings” blog of this website, where you will find a random collection of links, organizations, and related resources identified over the past four years (here are some suggested readings and links). You may also wish to explore older files from the “PovertyStudies” website with selected bibliographies and course syllabi.

If you are interested in participating in the Network (as either a scholar who works in these areas or as a related organization), or would like to discuss ways to help further advance its vision to encourage knowledge and action on just health in religion, nationally and globally, please contact Dr. Holman.


Banner image: The hands of St. Alexis. Private collection. Used with permission.