Connecting across cultures leads public health professor to new international role
February 7, 2018 • Uncategorized
Dr. Marcy Paul has spent a lifetime following the teachings of Tikkun Olam, the Jewish concept of “repairing the world.”
The foundations of Dr. Paul’s work in public health today, and her belief that every person has a responsibility to make the world better, have deep roots back to the convictions of her family, faith and upbringing.
As Assistant Professor of Health Behavior and Health Systems in the UNTHSC School of Public Health, Dr. Paul’s research and teaching is focused on social justice, health equity and improving quality of life in maternal and child health as a means of building healthier communities for current and future generations.
Her research in these areas, which began locally in Fort Worth and Tarrant County, extended in recent years to a larger, global perspective through connections with Israel and now a new appointment to co-chair a U.S. Academic Task Force on women in multicultural communities as the fabric for strengthening overall community health.
Through the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel’s Western Galilee Central Area Partnership Consortium, Dr. Paul will serve as co-chair in this new position with Dr. Janan Faraj Falah, Professor and Chair of Gender Studies at the Arab Academic College of Education in Israel.
The two first met when Dr. Paul was invited to speak to a class of future teachers at the college, and in addition to working on research projects since, they have also developed a close family friendship.
“What started out as a one-time class lecture turned into a larger experience for all of us,” Dr. Paul said. “My topic involved the use of Photovoice as a participatory, community-based research method of capturing people’s perceptions of their environment and assessing community needs, and as we talked, even with my rather limited Hebrew, I could tell that the students were very excited about the ideas. I gave them an impromptu Photovoice assignment of their own, along with my email address, so we could continue the conversation once I returned home.”
Since then, Dr. Paul has conducted research with multicultural Israeli populations in Western Galilee, connecting with the community’s largest government medical center and groups like “Women Cooking a Dialogue” in the Mateh Asher region, where Christians, Arabs, Bedouins, Muslims, Druze and Jewish Israelis all live and work together for a healthier environment and healthier families.
In March, she and Dr. Faraj Falah will travel to an international conference in Budapest, Hungary, to speak on the role of women in multicultural societies.
“The mutual understanding gained when communities move beyond differences to get to know each other and work together can greatly impact health and quality of life,” Dr. Paul said. “In being able to facilitate discussions on this through my research, I feel that my work in public health is bringing me back full circle to the tenets of Tikkun Olam, of repairing the world.”