Briefly describe your research.
My dissertation research examines the growing role of philanthropic foundations in global governance by shedding light on their influence in health emergency response. Specifically, my work reveals mechanisms by which foundations leverage power through the laws and institutions governing pandemic response. I analyze global health funding as well as the multitude of ways in which health problems are portrayed, both in public discourse and within policy-making communities. This work contributes to understandings of non-state actors and their relative power in global governance, and of factors driving over- and under-response to global threats from infectious diseases.
Why do the humanities matter?
By examining health as a lived experience, humanistic approaches account for sociopolitical and historical trends often overlooked in biomedical research. Issues of ethics and morality, as well as individual narratives central to studies of philosophy, religion, and language provide a unique depth inaccessible through other disciplinary approaches. They offer a holistic lens illuminating complex processes affecting health outcomes, while drawing attention to marginalized voices. The humanities highlight the broader context in which our health affects—and is affected by—our lives.
What do you look forward to this year as a Humanities Center fellow?
I am grateful for this opportunity to further my dissertation research in the company of interdisciplinary faculty from across the university, and to explore new areas of relevance to my work. I find learning – even the often-solitary research process – to be inherently social. My career to date has benefited immensely from mentorship and collaboration, and I look forward to continuing to learn from and contribute to the broader Northeastern community as a Humanities Center fellow in the coming year.
Summer Marion is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science. Her dissertation project examines the changing role of philanthropic foundations in pandemic response. Summer’s broader research agenda focuses on global health governance and topics lying at the intersection of health and security. Her interest in these issues began while working as a journalist and editor in Washington, D.C., where she covered international stories on the human effects of conflict and violence. She went on to hold roles as a researcher and instructional designer at Harvard University and the United States Military Academy at West Point. Summer holds a Master of Art in Law and Diplomacy from Tufts University’s Fletcher School. She is a research affiliate of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health Department of Global Health and Population.