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Social Justice

Historically marginalized and disadvantaged populations face a higher burden of illness, injury, disability, and mortality, and their access to and use of care is limited. Nursing, and specifically Penn Nursing, has long focused on social justice and improving the outcomes for the most vulnerable.

Dean Antonia M. VillarruelDean Antonia M. Villarruel“Our mission has always been to make a significant impact on improving the health of all people, to be the preeminent intellectual and transformative force in improving health through nursing.” says Antonia Villarruel, PhD, RN, FAAN, Professor and Margaret Bond Simon Dean of Nursing. “Social justice and inclusion are vital to achieving that mission and the need to dismantle structural racism is even more important today.”

“Nurses, through their research, practice, education, and advocacy are an important component in leading the elimination of health disparities and in achieving health equity. ” says Dr. Villarruel. “Our commitment to social justice and our work challenges dominant truths and disrupts structural inequities in health care to enhance health and quality of life for all.”



News and Stories Related to Social Justice


Faculty Spotlight on Social Justice

  • Dr. Jose Bauermeister

    José A. Bauermeister

    Dr. Bauermeister’s scholarship is grounded in social justice and characterized by a commitment to addressing structural and interpersonal barriers that hinder the social and personal well-being of SGM communities. Alongside race, class and gender, sexuality structures how we relate and interact with one another, and can give way to social and health inequalities when some sexualities are privileged over others. Dr. Bauermeister has sought to examine how to leverage intragroup and intergroup relationships to promote innovative strategies that address the needs of vulnerable SGM communities.

  • J. Margo Brooks Carthon

    J. Margo Brooks Carthon

    Dr. Brooks Carthon’s research and teaching have long focused on the issues of marginalization and inequities in healthcare. It is well understood that inequities in health care are avoidable, unnecessary and unjust and are due to policies and practices that create unequal distribution of resources to minority and poor communities. As such, her research examines policies such as nurse practitioner scope of practice barriers and insufficient nurse staffing levels that contribute to system racism and disproportionately impact minority patients and result in poor health outcomes.

    Most recently, research by Dr. Brooks Carthon’s team is addressing the disproportionate risk borne by low income individuals with multiple chronic conditions who are transitioning to home from acute care settings. While social conditions such as inadequate housing and food insecurity, impact post hospitalization recovery, so too does poor care coordination and a lack of communication between inpatient and community based providers. To address these healthcare delivery concerns, she co-led an interdisciplinary workgroup in the development of an intervention called THRIVE to support the clinical and social needs of low-income individuals returning home after a acute care admission. As Executive Director of THRIVE, she continues to advocate targeted resources to improve outcomes for historically marginalized communities. 

  • Alison Buttenheim, Penn Nursing

    Alison M. Buttenheim

    Health behaviors are stronger predictors of health outcomes than genetics, environmental factors, or even access to medical care. Through her research, teaching, and community-based practice, Dr. Buttenheim is keenly interested in identifying and dismantling mechanisms that produce social disparities in unhealthy behaviors. In the US, she has studied how to implement incentives-based smoking cessation programs for pregnant Medicaid members, who currently don’t have widespread access to these evidence-based strategies. In her work on the National Academic of Science, Engineering and Medicine’s Committee on the Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Buttenheim joined others in calling for preferential allocation of limited vaccine supply to communities hardest hit by the virus. Dr. Buttenheim was one of the founding members of Bold Solutions, an initiative to dismantle racism and advance Black health. Along with Amy Summer and Dr. Chris Chesley, she chairs the joint CHIBE/PAIR Committee on Anti-Racism and Social Change.

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