, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 359-368

The Wire and Urban Health Education

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Abstract

As urban health has emerged as a distinct field, experts have collaborated to develop models for interdisciplinary education to train health professionals. Interdisciplinary learning is an important yet challenging imperative for urban health education. This paper explores lessons learned from a 2010 speaker series at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The television show, The Wire, was used as a teaching tool to illustrate the context of health disparities in American cities and to explore the complex factors perpetuating urban health outcomes. We suggest that individuals interested in developing interdisciplinary teaching models can learn from both the form and the content of The Wire. As a popular televised serial narrative, The Wire prompts an investigation into the forms and circulation of academic research in a fractured and specialized media landscape. The formal narrative structure of the show provides mental scaffolding from which epidemiological, historical, geographical, anthropological, and other relevant disciplinary learning can build. The Wire encourages critical reflection among public health professionals about the forces that shape public health training, research, and practice and offers creative expansions to existing urban health educational efforts.