Friday Focus: One Health, campus wellness and diversity

March 29, 2019

Tori Tragis

UAF photo by JR Ancheta.
UAF photo by JR Ancheta.

— by Dan White, chancellor

The One Health research initiative was designed to apply the collective expertise of UAF and our partners to solve one of world’s grand challenges — the integrated health of humans, animals and the environment we live in. The initiative, which launched a year ago, took a leap forward last weekend with its first conference. The conference brought together a broad range of professionals from UAF as well as many from around the state, representing tribal organizations, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Centers for Disease Control state and federal agencies, and the University of Alaska Anchorage, among others. More than 200 people attended the conference. It was a great success, and I offer my congratulations to all who participated. I would especially like to recognize Arleigh Reynolds for his leadership on this project. The team is already looking forward to the One Health, One Future conference in March 2020 that will bring together participants from the circumpolar North.

One Health has adopted the Indigenous worldview of the connectedness of humans, animals and the environment. The One Health research initiative is not just about Alaska’s rural people and places. It is about all of us. The challenges in rural and urban environments are different, but the solutions are in the interconnectedness, and in that they are the same.

Everyone can contribute to the One Health project. One Health brings together people of all disciplines to work on bigger proposals for bigger projects to provide more holistic solutions. Engineers, scientists, mathematicians, artists, musicians and more have a place in One Health. It is about quantitative and qualitative research. Social science is every bit as important as natural science and engineering in this cross-disciplinary activity.

One Health is also about our campus community and wellness. Faculty, staff and students must find their sense of place and belonging at UAF, perhaps through student clubs, traditional sports, eSports, or living learning communities. Our campus wellness relies on our understanding and nurturing of each person’s connectedness.

I have stressed the importance of growing our culture of respect, diversity, inclusion and caring. This culture is critical to our One Health effort. It will take all of us, all races, ethnicities, gender identities, cultures and nationalities. Without the interconnected worldview participating in finding solutions, the solutions themselves will not be owned by us collectively. They must be, and at UAF we don’t just welcome diversity, we deserve it and demand it.