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CHRS 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

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Center on Health, Risk, and Society

Who We Are

The American University Center on Health, Risk, and Society (CHRS) supports a thriving multi-disciplinary community of scholars that conducts research on health and health-related issues using the tools and lens of social science. We augment work done in the public health and medical fields by focusing on the social and structural contexts that produce health and health-related inequities.

Our emphasis on the social and structural dimensions of health and risk builds on the growing recognition that more traditional approaches to health targeting individual behaviors or those that focus on biomedical technologies (such as medicines, vaccines, or clinical practices) have had limited and/or short-term effects and consequently, have not reached those in greatest need. Addressing health and health-related inequities requires understanding health as constituted by social, cultural, economic, political, and historical processes.

Upcoming Events

CHRS Speaker Series, Spring 2024January 24–April 17, 2:30-3:30 p.m.
Watkins G2 and on Zoom


See 2024 Spring Series Details at CHRS Events.
Refreshments and networking from 3:30 to 4:00.

What We Do

(C)onvene: CHRS brings together AU faculty and affiliated experts to examine health and health-related issues that span disciplines, methodological approaches and analysis levels to stimulate and sustain multi-disciplinary research.

(H)arness: CHRS ensures AU faculty and affiliated experts have the strategic resources to be successful in securing, implementing, and maintaining externally-funded research.

(R)each: CHRS fosters impact and visibility by offering assistance to AU-affiliated faculty in conceptualizing, designing, and disseminating their research agendas, projects, and outputs.

(S)ustain: In these ways and more, CHRS helps sustain a vibrant, multidisciplinary community with a shared commitment to achieving health equity.

Research Areas

CHRS scholars focus on five key areas and their intersections with structural inequities related (but not limited) to race, gender, income, ability and citizenship. Some of the topics which are addressed in these key areas are listed below (these lists are not exhaustive):

  • Sex, Sexuality, and Reproduction (e.g., Reproductive politics/health/aging, LGBTQI health, HIV/AIDS)
  • Migration, Displacement, and Disruption (e.g., Immigrant/migrant/refugee health, Deportation, Homelessness, Gentrification)
  • Violence and the Carceral State (e.g., Surveillance, Mass incarceration, Inter/Intra personal violence, Gun violence)
  • Wellbeing and Social Belonging (e.g., Aging and later life course, Intergenerational relationships, Mental health, Substance use)
  • Environment, Climate, and Place (e.g., Environmental justice, Food insecurity, Occupational health and safety, Community mobilization)

How to Get Involved

CHRS welcomes scholars and learners engaged in, or interested in, social science research on health and health-related issues.

  • Faculty Associates and Affiliates 
  • Student Affiliates 
  • Visiting Scholars 

CHRS partners with other centers, departments, and schools across American University and includes faculty and learners from within the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of International Service, the School of Public Affairs, the School of Education, the School of Communication, and the Washington School of Law. Colleagues from George Washington University, Howard University, Georgetown University, the University of Maryland, the DC Center for AIDS Research, and other academic and research institutions in the DC area are also engaged in the CHRS intellectual community.