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Call for seminar papers: Historical perspectives on morals, values, and ethics in public health

The Centre for History in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine invites expressions of interest from researchers who would like to give a seminar paper as part of a series focusing on morals, values, and ethics in public health (in any time period or geographic location), from historical perspectives.

Public health, meaning collective organised action to prevent illness and promote health at population level, draws upon a distinctive array of powers and methods including surveillance, compulsion, coercion, and wide-ranging state intervention. This has often prompted debates about the morality of such activities, with reference to individual rights and freedoms, the needs of the population, and the duties or responsibilities of individuals, groups, and governments. Implicit morals and values have always informed the horizons of public health as well, determining the populations and problems that are prioritised and the interventions that can be imagined or implemented.

How have these implicit and explicit morals and values shaped public health, and how have they changed over time and in relation to different populations and public health problems? Which public health issues have prompted close attention to ethical questions, and which have not? How have disagreements about fairness, justice, or morality in public health work been resolved? And what has been the impact of more official ethical guidelines for public health, emerging from the second half of the twentieth century?

Seminar papers may address any aspects of these questions as they have played out the in past (including the very recent past). Papers must adopt a historical perspective, but presenters may be from any disciplinary background, including but not limited to history.

Seminars run from 2022-2024 as part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project ‘Ethics and British public health law’. Solo presentations should be around 40 minutes long; a pair of shorter presentations can also be accommodated. Presentations can be delivered on Zoom or in person in London. Some limited funding is available to cover travel expenses and other costs.

To express an interest in presenting a paper as part of this series, please send a summary of the work that you would like to present (up to 250 words) and a short biography to janet.weston@lshtm.ac.uk by 28 October 2022. Prospective presenters are also very welcome to get in touch with any questions.