Kathleen Bachynski

Assistant Professor, Public Health
Public Health Program
New Science Building

[email protected]

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  • B.A., University of Michigan
  • M.P.H., University of Michigan, School of Public Health
  • Ph.D., Columbia University

Teaching Interests

My approach to teaching is guided by the interdisciplinary nature of public health, a field made richer by a broad range of perspectives across the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. I am committed to placing public health issues in historical, cultural and scientific context. I believe this approach is essential to understanding the complex nature of contemporary public health challenges. It also enables students to build stronger connections among varied public health topics, other academic disciplines and the experiences that they bring to the classroom. 

My teaching strategies prioritize giving students experience in interpreting primary and secondary sources with a variety of analytical tools and constructing arguments based on an appreciation of a diversity of perspectives and complex evidence. I want students to gain a critical understanding of the range of factors involved in influencing the nature and scope of public health challenges. My goal is for students to leave the classroom more empowered to address socially relevant and intellectually demanding public health questions, with sharper critical research and writing skills that can be applied to a wide range of endeavors of their choosing.


Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests

When and how do people address brain injuries in sports as a public health issue, rather than seeing them as inevitable or as bad luck? Why do some communities require young cyclists to wear helmets, but not others? Most of my research focuses on injury prevention, sports safety and youth health. I am particularly interested in studying when and how injury risks become framed as random accidents versus preventable public health issues; the social contexts that inform changing medical and public health evidence about those risks; and how social and cultural forces such as race, gender, class and mass media have shaped past and present debates over how to prevent injuries.

So far, my biggest project has been completing a book on the history of debates over youth tackle football safety, No Game for Boys to Play: The History of Youth Football and the Origins of a Public Health Crisis (November 2019). Some other topics I've studied include pseudomedicine for sports concussions, bike helmets and overuse injuries. My overarching goal is to contribute to scholarly understandings of the scope and possibilities of public health approaches, in order to ultimately improve the health and well-being of the public. 

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