Center for Health Communication: 2018-19 as Evolution

Center for Health Communication: 2018-19 as Evolution

By Mike Mackert

As long as the Center for Health Communication (CHC) has existed, we’ve felt like every year has been a process of calculated but substantial experimentation. Last year we tripled our staff team, launched a variety of new projects, and it was a hectic and busy – but fun! – year.

It struck me this week as we stare down the start of the fall semester that we might be hitting a new phase of the CHC’s existence: one of ongoing evolution rather than radical revolution.

Several of our big projects are entering their second and third years. We have great collaborators, from Texas Health and Human Services Commission to the University of Texas System to MD Anderson – who are no longer new colleagues we’re learning to work with but rather long-term partners we know well. We are creating efficiencies across these partners and connecting the dots on the various health communication projects across the state.  We are being invited to partner on more and more projects within Dell Medical School, too, cementing our status as a true joint academic center between the Moody College of Communication (where we were founded) and Dell Medical School. Our Communication for Health, Empathy, and Resilience (CHER) pilot grant program will enter its second year, building on the success of the first year where new Moody-Dell Med connections promise to advance health communication research and improve the health and wellbeing of people in Central Texas and beyond.

This isn’t to say we aren’t still launching new programs and trying new things, of course. Our Mental Health & Health Communication theme will be a novel approach to inviting new colleagues to engage with the CHC and the work our faculty affiliates, staff, and students are pursuing. I’m excited about the potential of this 2-year initiative to foster new relationships. It has already been happening since we announced the theme this past spring, with colleagues across UT-Austin and outside organizations expressing interest in participating. More on that theme as it develops.

Every year has been a process of reinvention and experimentation for the CHC. Experimentation and evolution will likely always be part of who we are, but always trained toward a better version of our identity, culture, and approach to the work we want to do and impact we want to have. It’s going to be an exciting year, and I’d love to invite new people to come along: check our all-hands meetings this fall as a first way to join us!