Judith Lasker

Hi, I am Judith Lasker, and I’m Professor Emerita in Sociology and Anthropology and Health, Medicine and Society at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, USA. My lifelong interest in sociology centers on the study of health and medical care. My latest project on global health volunteering brings my career interests full circle to my earliest research, on the health care system of Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa.

My latest book, Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering, results from several years of research, including interviews, surveys, and participant observation. I am having a great time talking to many different groups about this topic and meeting people with a great variety of backgrounds who are passionate about improving global health programs in a responsible, ethical, and effective way.

Formal Bio:

Judith N. Lasker retired as NEH Distinguished Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA, USA.  She earned her B.A. at Brandeis and her MA and Ph.D. at Harvard.  Judith’s major areas of interest are in the field of medical sociology, with particular emphasis on women’s health issues and international health. She is co‑author with Susan Borg of When Pregnancy Fails: Families Coping with Miscarriage, Ectopic Pregnancy, Stillbirth, and Infant Death and In Search of Parenthood: Coping with Infertility and High‑Tech Conception, and with Ed Collom and Corinne Kyriacou of Equal Time, Equal Value: Community Currencies and Time Banking in the U.S. She has also researched the impact of liver disease and transplantation on women and the relationship of social cohesion to cardiac mortality. 

Her book, Hoping to Help: The Promises and Pitfalls of Global Health Volunteering (Cornell U. Press, 2016) and several journal articles examine the impact on host communities and on volunteers of short-term international service programs in public health and medical care.  She interviewed over one hundred people involved in such programs as organizers, volunteers, and host country staff and surveyed almost two hundred organizations that sponsor volunteers.  Her writings draws upon research to recommend ways in which such volunteer trips can be more valuable for all involved. She is co-founder of Advocacy for Global Health Partnerships, a broad coalition of organizations supporting more ethical and effective practices in global health. AGHP created the Brocher Declaration as a statement of principles that has been adopted by dozens of organizations worldwide: www.ghpartnerships.org/brocher.

In 2014, Judith was awarded the Centennial Medal by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard. Each year a few GSAS alumni/ae are honored with this medal for “contributions to society as they have emerged from one’s graduate education at Harvard.”

Find Judith’s full CV here.