Population Health Sciences Seminar: Where Does the Neighborhood Go?

Joshua P. Garoon, Ph.D., MPH, an assistant professor of community and environment sociology in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, looks at the historic and geographic factors that contribute to health inequities in the city.

The state of Baltimore’s neighborhoods has frequently been featured in recent national jgaroon1-265x300headlines – with articles ranging in topic and place from the East Baltimore Development, Inc.’s efforts just north of Johns Hopkins’ medical campus; to the west side’s Sandtown-Winchester in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death at the hands of police; to the south side’s Port Covington, site of a “historic” development deal backed by UnderArmour’s CEO and featuring a lauded community benefits agreement with six proximate neighborhoods. Much of this reporting has shared a focus on the lack of material and social resources present in the neighborhoods under scrutiny; some has underscored the residents’ lack of mobility. Some has even highlighted the city’s long history of racial segregation and discrimination.

All of these issues are certainly key determinants of the social, economic, and health inequities that burden Baltimore. Much less attention has been given to broader geographical and historical factors – issues that stretch outside the city limits, into the surrounding counties and beyond.

This presentation situates ongoing Baltimore-based research in a sociological, geographical, and historical context to argue for a perspective on health inequities (and particularly those traced to the neighborhood level, as is common in today’s public health) that incorporates not just those who reside in Baltimore City neighborhoods, but those who do not – including those who have left, and those who are yet (and hoped) to arrive.