Perspectives about Occupational Justice


Program Description:

Imagine what it might feel like to be unable to participate in many of the day to day activities that most of us take for granted. Brushing our teeth in the morning, making breakfast, engaging in a job or classroom, taking care of our home, family and pets, enjoying a book or newspaper, preparing meals, preparing a place to sleep. These sample just a few of the life activities in which humans typically participate....referred to as occupations in the field of occupational science. Occupations vary substantially from culture to culture and also depend on access to material and political resources. Occupations in which people engage contribute to their health, identity, and sense of purpose. Occupation in its purest form can be simply termed as the purposeful act of doing something or conceptually defined as the performance of meaningful activities with a set goal in mind. In this paper we will explore the concept of occupational justice, a term that describes a basic human right to have the opportunities and rights to participate in those activities and occupations that define us as individuals, family and community members by providing meaning and purpose to our lives. Conditions of poverty preclude the ability to participate in a wide range of activities and occupations that support well-being. An anticipated outcome of this presentation is to explore how poverty negatively influences engagement in those activities and occupations that support health, productivity and life satisfaction. This program was developed as a part of the University Dialog Program.


Barbara Prudhomme White

Barbara Prudhomme White is an associate professor in the department of occupational therapy at the University of New Hampshire. Her research interests are in stress and its relations to health, and optimal, meaningful engagement in activities and occupations in children and adults. Research projects include a stress management program in pregnant women, stress responses in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and relations among perceived stress, health and occupational repertoires in both adults and children. White is also interested in issues of stimulant medication abuse, and disorders of attention in children and adults. She was the recipient of the College of Health and Human Services Teaching Excellence Award in 2007-2008. Her passions include teaching students, helping students identify their research loves, and skiing.

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