Relational Health

In this research cluster, we are focused on publicly engaged, evidence-driven, creative design approaches to whole student health (chronic and acute clinical care, and mental, social emotional, sexual, relational health). In 2022, our lab began collaborating with Mt Abe Union School District and Mountain Health Center (a federally funded clinic) to create a school based health center (SBHC) for comprehensive primary health.


We are excited to offer opportunities to Middlebury students to join us in designing, evaluating, and ensuring the long-term success of this initiative. If you have ideas about health or wellness workshops you’d like to help design or facilitate, ethnographic research you'd like to get involved with, or digital design and digital engagement skills you'd contribute to this public initiative, please reach out to Professor Bright at


Anthropological foci for this cluster include: How do students of diverse ages, experiences, and identities imagine “good health” and “good care”? In the context of pandemic shutdowns and protocols, how do students (who are, for example, 8, 12, 14, or 18 years) think about mental health, relational health, physical health? Do students think in terms of specialized vision or need (e.g., chronic diabetes or ADHD management, access to STI and sexual health resources) or do they take a more holistic outlook? In the context of the SCOTUS decision to repeal Roe, how are middle and high school students reacting to the present/ imagining the future?


Across projects, we are thinking critically and futuristically about relational health, what that means for diverse K-12 students in Vermont (for example, students with disabilities, BIPOC students, LGBTQIA+ students, immigrant and international students, rural students). How can we apply our anthropological tools and theory to the design and delivery of more inclusive and comprehensive primary care.


Two projects we are anticipating: first, we plan to gather ethnographic information from students about intercultural and transnational ideas about health and whole student wellness that can be engaged iteratively in the design of student health workshops and services. Second, we are exploring avenues for public media partnership; for example opportunities where middle and high students can partner with college students to collaboratively produce video shorts (health PSAs), and host those collaboratively, as TikToks or podcasts.

  Publications/ Research in Progress

  (list coming soon)