Associate Professor Eileen Anderson-Fye directs the Medicine, Society and Culture (MSC) concentration in the Bioethics MA program. As a medical and psychological anthropologist, she studies how adolescents and young adults adapt to changes in their environments in ways that both advance and harm their well-being. An award-winning teacher and mentor, she founded the MSC degree track to give students a more comprehensive understanding of non-biological factors that affect health, as well as also our ideas about well-being and illness.
Dr. Anderson-Fye is a medical and psychological anthropologist, and the founding director of the Medicine, Society, and Culture (MSC) Master’s Degree track in Bioethics and Medical Humanities. Drawn to interdisciplinary study since her own days as an undergraduate, Dr. Anderson-Fye developed the MSC degree track for students to explore how factors beyond biomedical science contribute to health and wellness. Social and cultural constructs, historical and rhetorical influences, literature, philosophy – all shape perceptions of health, illness, and recovery, which in turn affect choices, beliefs, and behaviors. Those who appreciate this complex and multi-layered interplay will be able to play pivotal roles in enhancing how care is delivered – and the outcomes it yields.
Dr. Anderson-Fye’s perspective on these issues has been informed by extensive research on the mental health and well-being of adolescents and young adults in contexts of socio-cultural change. Her most enduring project is an ongoing longitudinal study of how subjective perceptions of current and future well-being allowed the first mass-educated cohort of Belizean schoolgirls to overcome severe threats to their mental and physical health. More recently, she led a team’s study of the psychiatric medication experiences of undergraduates at North American university campuses, where a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods revealed stark differences between reported and actual usage. Dr. Anderson-Fye is writing a book about the findings and their implications; it is tentatively titled, Young, Educated and Medicated. Her third major project is a multi-institutional effort examining the ethnography of global obesity stigma among upwardly mobile young people in several countries around the world. This research led to a School for Advanced Research seminar, from which emerged an edited volume now in press, Fat Planet: Culture, Obesity and Symbolic Body Capital. Dr. Anderson-Fye is primary editor and author of the publication.
Her training has included work at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Social Medicine and Massachusetts General Hospital, and postdoctoral fellowships in Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture and Neuroscience and Culture, Brain and Development at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience in the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.