Shelley White

Program Director, Associate Professor

PhD in Sociology, Boston College
Master of Public Health (MPH) in International Health, Boston University
Bachelor’s in Occupational Therapy, Boston University 

Shelley White is an Associate Professor of Public Health and Sociology and the Program Director of the online Master of Public Health program. An interdisciplinary scholar, White completed her PhD in Sociology, her Master of Public Health in International Health, and her bachelor’s in occupational therapy. The common vein of her career is a commitment to health and human rights.

White began her career as a pediatric occupational therapist, supporting bilingual and integrative public school programs for children with multiple disabilities, many of whom were recent immigrants to the Boston area. Having also worked with migrant youth in Mexico, she discovered her passion for global health. Upon completing her MPH, she worked on HIV/AIDS policy and programming, overseeing federal and state HIV care programs for the state of Maine and implementing early response programs in Lesotho, southern Africa. White was drawn to sociology to better understand global and domestic inequalities, power dynamics in society, and the promise of social movements. She greatly enjoys working with her students as they develop their own critical analyses in learning about health and social inequalities and understanding how collectives mobilize for social change. She is the proud recipient of Simmons’ 2013 Professor of the Year Award. White is enthusiastic about directing the online MPH program at Simmons, which focuses on health equity and prepares graduates for leadership roles in addressing the socio-structural determinants of health. 

White serves on the board of directors for WE Charity (formerly Free the Children), an international nonprofit engaged in partnered community development and youth empowerment, wherein she provides on-ground international consultation on health and development programs. She is founding vice president of the board of directors for SocMed, which teaches and promotes the practice of social medicine in Uganda, Haiti, and the U.S.; inaugural director of academic development for the AP® with WE service-learning program; founding chair of the Public Health Working Group on Primary Prevention of War; past chair of the American Public Health Association’s Trade and Health Forum; and past co-chair of the Steering Committee for Human Rights Cities: Boston and Beyond.

White’s research focuses on political economic factors shaping health, health inequities, and health policy. Her recent studies examine the impacts of economic globalization, corporations, and trade; FDA regulation of medical devices for women; social movements for single-payer health care in the era of Affordable Care Act implementation; and primary preventive approaches to war and militarism. She engages sociological theories of knowledge and professions, and scholarship on social movements and social change, to understand how institutions and collectives respond to upstream factors shaping health and social outcomes. Her recent publications appear in the American Journal of Public Health; Journal of Human Rights Practice; Health, Risk & Society; Education, Citizenship and Social Justice; Interface; Critical Public Health; and Public Health Reports.

White is also involved in teaching and learning scholarship and serves on the Eastern Sociological Society’s Committee on Undergraduate Education and is a past editor of the American Sociological Association’s Teaching/Learning Matters newsletter. White has co-edited the books Sociologists in Action: Sociology, Social Change, and Social Justice (Sage, 2011, 2013) and Sociologists in Action on Inequalities: Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality (Sage 2014), and she has recent publications in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and College Teaching.

When she is not in the classroom, White enjoys playing tennis, doing artwork, spending time on the water, and particularly loves spending time with her 13 nieces and nephews.