Lim Chong Yah Lecture by Professor Mohan J. Dutta

Voices at the margins of health:
A culture-centered approach to addressing global health inequalities

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

Prof. Mohan J. Dutta

Mohan J. Dutta
Lim Chong Yah Professor, National University of Singapore
Professor of Communication and Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Education, Purdue University

Date: Friday 6 August 2010
Time: 10.30 a.m. to 12 noon
Venue: LT10

One of the most salient characteristics of contemporary public health is the deep inequality in health outcomes that exists within and between populations. Of particular importance are the absence of health infrastructures and capacities in the marginalized sectors of the globe in spite of the rhetorical emphasis of development institutions on pro-poor policies over the last six decades. In response to the lack of health infrastructures in marginalized communities, Professor Dutta proposes the culture-centered approach to health communication based on the observation that structural marginalization of the poor is fundamentally situated amidst discursive marginalization. The culture-centered approach puts forth the argument that the concept of culture is either missing from most public health and health communication theories that have been developed in Western elite circles, or is narrowly conceptualized as a static mapping of a place and its people that can then be utilized for developing effective health interventions. Instead, the approach proposes that culture is contextual and dynamic, constituted in the lived experiences of people and in their everyday struggles to make sense of the conditions in which they live. The emphasis therefore is on listening to the voices of the marginalized sectors of the globe that have been erased from the dominant discursive spaces of health care policies and interventions. Listening to these voices creates the bulwark for building locally centered theories of health in global spaces that render impure the stable categories of dominant theorizing and create openings for change.

Professor Mohan J. Dutta (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is Professor of Communication and Associate Dean of Research & Graduate Education in the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University. One of the most prolific scholars in health communication and winner of the Lewis Donohew Outstanding Scholar in Health Communication Award, he has been widely recognized for his work with the culture-centered approach to health communication. In his research with marginalized communities across the globe, he has explored the ways in which locally situated stories of health create openings for challenging the rationalities of dominant theories of health communication. Professor Dutta has published over 110 journal articles and book chapters in health communication in a short span of nine years and is the author of four books in health and development communication, including the widely used book Communicating health: A culture-centered approach. His work has been funded by the MacArthur Foundation, Agency for HealthCare Research & Quality, and the National Institutes of Health. At Purdue University, he is a fellow of the Service Learning Academy and the Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, where he is currently developing a model of community-based networks of change.

Professor Mohan J. Dutta, recipient of the Lim Chong Yah Professorship, will be visiting CNM from 2 to 11 August 2010.

Homecoming 2010

CNM celebrated its annual Homecoming on Saturday 24 July, welcoming a whole clan (yes, we’ve grown!) of alumni, new graduates, staff present and past — and their families. There was a sense of déjà vu as we welcomed former students as well as teachers, with Ms Cynthia Owens and Dr Byungho Park (all the way from Korea) joining in. More importantly, the exuberance of the group overshadowed the fact that everyone was from different cohorts.

So packed with energy was the afternoon that we drove the rain clouds away, though each guest was armed with a spanking new CNM umbrella. The 2010 CNM Magazine was also launched on this day.

Guests were treated to a video presentation done by students of NM3208 before a sumptuous Thai buffet. Awards were also given out by Dr Millie to the following people:

2010 Best Teacher Awards

(1)   Dr Cho Hichang
(2)   Dr Linda Perry
(3)   Dr Chung Siyoung
(4)   Mr Gui Kai Chong
(5)   Mr Chua Chong Jin
(6)   Ms Francesa Nathan

2010 Best Teaching Assistants

(1)   Mr Christopher Ong
(2)   Mr Chan Yoke Hian

2010 Best Alumnus Awards

(1)   Ms Alicia Wong JiaHui
(2)   Mr Soh Junhao

2010 Best Teaching Scholars

(1)   Ms Carol Soon Wan Ting
(2)   Mr Florian Kund Laszlo

2010 Best Well-Rounded Honours Students

(1)   Ms Jemima Ooi Ai Ping,  Best Honours student, NTUC Income Prize Award recipient, and also Best Well-Rounded Student
(2)   Ms Michelle Woo Pui Mun, Best Well-Rounded Honours student
(3)   Mr Daniel Teo Hee Boon, Best Communication Management student, and Hill & Knowlton Award recipient

Alas this was also a time we bade farewell to Ms Ou Meimin and Mr Mohamed Elmie Bin Nekmat, both of whom are leaving CNM to pursue their doctoral studies.

Congratulations once more, everyone, and godspeed!

CNM welcomes Visiting Scholar Dr Byungho Park

CNM is honoured to host visiting scholar Dr Byungho Park. Dr Park comes from the Business School at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). During his one and a half month in Singapore, he will be doing research on Singaporeans and media consumption, in collaboration with CNM Programme’s faculty members. His research centres on media effects, human motivational system, cognition and behaviour. Dr Park will be in Singapore until August 31st, 2010.

About Byungho PARK

Dr Byungho Park

Dr Byungho Park

After graduating from Korea University (BS, Computer Science, 1993), Byungho Park worked for Samsung Electronics for five years before he proceeded to graduate studies.  Dr Park (Ph.D., Mass Communications, Indiana University, 2006) trained under Dr Annie Lang in the areas of media psychology and psychophysiology.  He was assistant professor at the National University of Singapore (Communications and New Media Programme) for two years, and is an Assistant Professor at the Business School at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology).  He has two broad areas of interest: one is neuromarketing, which he sees as an area that applies psychophysiological research methods to marketing research (including advertising); another is human motivational system, which is related to personality and marketing, thus also having connection to neuromarketing.  He is particularly interested in individual differences in human motivational system, which is believed to lead to differences in cognition and behaviours.

Congratulations to the CNM Class of 2010!

CNM Class of 2010

CNM Class of 2010

Someone remarked that CNM had yet again dominated the phototaking at the UCC Courtyard this year — how could we not with our ever-growing class size?

As is with CNM tradition, the entire department (from current and past students, to teaching and administrative staff) showed up to rally behind the graduating class after their commencement ceremony on 13 July 2010. Armed with a plethora of DSLRs; tripods; iPhones; special lenses, there was no delusion that we were the CNM brigade.

This year we celebrate the graduation of 188 undergraduate and 2 graduate students.

Hip hip hooray, guys! We’ll see you soon at the Homecoming party on 24 July!

NUS students win 2nd place at CHI 2010

Four undergraduates from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Ms Vu Giang Thanh, Mr Muhammad Shafi B Rafie, Mr Muhammad Farkhan B Salleh, and Ms Tan Xiu Fang have combined popular networking tools to create a fresh interactive experience that will enable a user to walk in another man’s shoes. This idea stood out amongst [ more than 90 entries from  16 countries] to clinch second place at the CHI2010 Student Design Competition held in Atlanta, Georgia in April 2010.

The prototype, Living Avatar’s Network (LAN), opens up a unique avenue where users can interact with each other in real-time while allowing one user to gain a first-hand experience of the other user’s actions. For example, the new system will allow a physically disabled user to experience an outdoor adventure in real-time such as trekking or even sky-diving in the comfort of the home. The user can also determine and give instructions to a Living Avatar to carry out a task.

The team of four students from the Communications and New Media (CNM) programme at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences foresee that this platform can bridge more gaps of physical boundaries, such as distance between locals and tourists, physique between the young and old or even serve as a novel business solution by outsourcing an experience to a professional as a Living Avatar to carry out the task and stream it to the user via LAN .

With LAN, online users are now empowered to venture beyond the confines of a virtual environment. It is also designed for people to participate in interactive walks or other activities during which images, voice and personal experiences  are transmitted simultaneously and instantaneously between users. Mundane tasks such as supermarket shopping, catching a bus or even walking the dog, will be transformed to amusing, interactive activities as users share their actions, thoughts, memories and instructions via real-time mobile video.

Easily synchronised with existing technologies, the LAN  platform requires only four items – a laptop, web-cam, wireless internet connection and an account to a social networking site. (headset?)

CHI2010 Student Design Competition

Held from 10 to 15 April 2010, the competition is part of the prestigious international design conference – ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. Participants in this year’s competition faced the challenge of designing an object, interface, system or service that would positively motivates people to take a walk. This is the first time that an NUS team has won in this seven-year old competition.

The students had originally designed LAN  for an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Programme on heritage and location based media, supervised by Assistant Professor Denise Kera  from the CNM programme, Dr Connor Graham, professional ethnographer of interactive media and independent researcher based in Singapore, and PhD student Ms Inosha Wickrama from the NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering.

Random Blends, Student Multimedia Showcase

Random Blends 2010 is the second public exhibition of students’ work  by the Communications & New Media Programme. Held between 19 – 28 March, this multimedia exhibit comprised of photographs, children’s storybook art, videos, video games, machinimas and interactive stories created by students from various graduate and undergraduate design modules.

It was a student-initiated effort, from the production and reproduction of the works, to the curating and exhibit management. All students were participating in their first-ever exhibition.

View the photos of the exhibition

CNM Communication Management Students Present to Shell and UNIFEM

In January 2010, ten students from CNM’s NM3219, Writing for Communication Management in Semester 1 of 2009 presented the findings of their issues tracking and their public relations plan to their respective client-companies.
The students were delighted and excited to be able to present their proposals to the client-organisations in real-life. And worked assiduously at updating their research and recommendations.

On 6 January 2010, Kristine Aquino, Karin Lim, Eunice Tan, Gordon Tan and Jackson Wee went to Shell Singapore at UE Square to present their public relations proposal, “BE FREE” to Shell’s Corporate Communications Department. The experience provided the students frank insights into the complex workings of business, government and community, and helped them appreciate so much more the delicate boundary-spanning role of public relations professionals among all stakeholders. The management at Shell, on the other hand, had a better understanding of the work of CNM at NUS.

Then, on 23 January, Charmaine Tan, Liyana Soh, Normanisa Aziz, Quyen Pham and Loy Mee Mum presented their public relations plan to the management of UNIFEM (Singapore), the United Nations Development Fund for Women. Like the Shell team, the student-Unifem team’s plan was a culmination of six months of issues tracking and development of communication goals and strategy for their chosen company.

The feedback from UNIFEM was affirming. Ms Pia Bruce, General Manager of UNIFEM, was “very impressed with their performance and professionalism”. Indeed, Pia and executive committee member, Audrey Goh planned to present the team’s ideas and proposal at their next Strategy meeting. The 3219 UNIFEM team looks forward to future opportunities of building strong ties with UNIFEM Singapore.

Link for all photos taken on the morning of 23 January 2010:
(Kristine Aquino, Karin Lim, Eunice Tan, Gordon Tan and Jackson Wee of NM3219 Semester 1 AY 2009-10 reported on the Shell presentation)
(Charmaine Tan, Liyana Soh, Loy Mee Mum, Normanisa Aziz and Quyen Pham of NM3219 Semester 1 AY 2009-10 provided the story and photos on their presentation at UNIFEM Singapore)