Sociology major Gabe Halperin-Goldstein ’19 is looking to expand the role that average Philadelphians play in public policy and public health. For Halperin-Goldstein, this undertaking means working with local public health activists to combat hunger and food shortages in the Philadelphia area.
As a Haverford House Fellow for the 2019-2020 academic year, Halperin-Goldstein was matched by Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship with a nonprofit organization whose mission aligns with his own passions.
“I will be working at the Center for Hunger-Free Communities (CfHFC),” he said. “CfHFC is a research group affiliated with the Drexel School of Public Health that advocates for policies that relieve food insecurity in Philadelphia. They place an emphasis on giving the people of Philadelphia a voice in the research and advocacy process.”
This opportunity dovetails with a grassroots-based interest in public health that Halperin-Goldstein, who minored in both economics and health studies, cultivated during his time at Haverford. This interest was nourished both by Halperin-Goldstein’s thesis, as detailed on the “What They Learned” blog, as well as his coursework.
“I was able to take a class called ‘Community Engagement and Social Responsibility,’ where every student had to volunteer with an organization oriented to harm reduction in response to the opioid epidemic,” he said. “This was crucial towards my appreciation of service-based learning.”
For Halperin-Goldstein, this model of service-based learning is representative of a greater philosophy he maintains with respect to public health. He imagines that by maintaining contact and communication with the populations that healthcare solutions are meant to benefit, the activists, policymakers, and advocates working for change can see more widespread success.
“I am particularly interested in how social institutions shape health outcomes and health disparities, and identifying solutions outside the scope of medicine to achieve more equitable health outcomes,” said Halperin-Goldstein. “Furthermore, giving agency to people outside of the world of academia to be part of the research process can be empowering to those people, and may contribute to more direct social change than research that is contained within the college.”
Fundamentally, though, Halperin-Goldstein’s work as a Haverford House Fellow will be about relieving food insecurity and expanding access to information regarding how to get involved in the fight against hunger. It is the community-oriented aspect of this work which he finds most meaningful and most likely to impact his future work: “speaking with people who are living those topics being studied everyday has pushed me to consider new perspectives that I had not considered.”
“Where They’re Headed” is a blog series reporting on the post-collegiate plans of recent Haverford graduates.