Western Regional International Health Conference, April 22-24, 2016

Glocalization: Redefining Boundaries and Borders in Approaches to Health

Health is a universal objective for communities, cities, and countries around the world. In an era of extensively connected economic, political, social, and travel networks, why do we continue to address “global” and “local” health goals and issues as isolated entities – especially when so many of the influential factors are not defined by borders or boundaries? For example, the recent Ebola outbreak has reminded us how quickly infectious diseases can spread, converting a local epidemic into a global crisis. Political conflicts, wars, and natural disasters have produced more displaced persons than the planet has seen since World War II, necessitating collective humanitarian solutions. Over the past decade, social media has expanded to facilitate response to human rights violations and unite passionate social justice movements from all reaches of the globe. Stories of violence – including police and trafficking – are emerging from different parts of the world, including right in our own cities. It’s worth asking which of these issues should be considered “global” and which are “local”.

Glocalization, the namesake and focus of this conference, emphasizes the interconnected nature of global and local health. First mentioned in business literature and later popularized by sociologist Roland Robertson, glocalization refers to the simultaneous presence of “both universalizing and particularizing tendencies.” Put more simply, glocalization shifts health perspectives, intertwining ideas from global and local viewpoints. Inspired by this concept of glocalization, we want to initiate conversations about approaching health in a collaborative way, unifying people dealing with similar issues and challenges around the world. We are all locally based on the globe.

The conference will frame these conversations within five sub-themes, all of which will address glocalization by discussing issues around the world at multiple levels of influence:

  • Identity and Social Movements
  • Migrating and Displaced Persons
  • Global Health Policies and Economics
  • Chronic and Infectious Disease
  • Changing Global Ecosystems and “OneHealth”

Your Role

As an attendee, we want you to be involved in conversations about health regardless of background and perceived sphere of influence. Everyone’s voice matters. We aim to encourage input from voices that may often go unheard, to challenge ideas and shift perspectives. Let us not resign ourselves to being involved in either local or global health, but rather all participate in glocal health.

About Us

Our fantastic committee is made up of students from across disciplines at the University of Washington, including public health, global health, microbiology, international studies, business, medicine, and more. Although we study and work in different fields, we came together because of a common interest: health.


More detail on sub-themes

Identity and Social Movements

  • We all have multiple aspects to our identity, including our gender, profession, sexuality, disabilities, culture, and race.  We will address how our identity influences social movements and how we view and interact with health, both at a local and global levels

Migrating and Displaced Persons

  • Humans are migrating at an exponential rate, traveling locally and globally.  This includes migrant workers, immigrants, and refugees of global conflict, and the health implications due to this are complex.  We will have conversations about the issues and possible solutions at all levels.

Global Health Policies and Economics

  • Many overlook the effects of economics and policy on health at all levels around the world – global, federal, and local.  We would like to talk about issues including economic justice, health systems, and foreign and trade policies.  Policy provides the base – whether positive or negative – for health to grow from.  This is a vital consideration when examining health around the world.

Chronic and Infectious Disease

  • There has been a clear shift in disease trends over time, with an overall growing burden of chronic diseases.  At the same time, infectious disease outbreaks, like the recent Ebola outbreak, thrust infectious disease back into the spotlight periodically.  We will consider varying approaches to issues such as vaccination, the response of health institutions to epidemics, and the role of the media in shaping our perceptions of disease.

Changing Global Ecosystems and “OneHealth”

  • Global ecosystems are extensively interconnected, and events that impact the environment locally can have implications on grander scales and in other locations via ripple and direct effects.  Health professionals are currently developing a greater appreciation for and understanding of the strong relationships between human, animal, and environmental health, also known as “OneHealth”.  We will discuss several facets to these relationships and their implications for global health, now and in the future.