Marcel and Josephine Patterson Memorial Lecture in the Medical Humanities
A Bounded Justice Approach:
Recognizing and Measuring the Limits of Equity
Melissa Creary, PhD, MPH
Department of Health Management and Policy
School of Public Health
University of Michigan
Thursday, March 9, 2023
12:00pm - 1:00pm
Health Education Center (HEC) Room. 3.206
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Programs, policies, and technologies —particularly those concerned with health equity — are often
designed with justice envisioned as the end goal. These policies or interventions, however, frequently fail to
recognize how the beneficiaries have historically embodied the cumulative effects of marginalization, which
undermines the effectiveness of the intended justice. These well-meaning attempts at justice are bounded
by greater socio-historical constraints. Bounded justice suggests that it is impossible to attend to fairness,
entitlement, and equity when the basic social and physical infrastructures underlying them have been
eroded by racism and other historically entrenched -isms. Using the cases of Brazilian health policy, U.S.
-based cannabis social equity provisions, and scientific interest in sickle cell disease, this talk will critique
the inherent limitations of social justice projects that ignore structural forms of social exclusion and will
discuss opportunities for obtaining deeper equity via research methodology and praxis.