Our Faculty

Home » Our Faculty » Amy L. Fairchild

Amy L. Fairchild

Professor of Sociomedical Sciences

Dr. Fairchild is a historian researching the broad social forces that produce disease and shape public health policy and a public health policy analyst focused on dilemmas in the ethics and politics of contemporary debates. Guided by the understanding that history and policy do not simply represent two different worlds, she fuses these frameworks of analysis, crafting a new, historically grounded way of thinking critically about problems in a professional field. Her work's central intellectual theme has been to explore the functions and limits of the State, particularly when it seeks to address health issues that touch on groups marginalized by virtue of disease, class, and race. Fairchild's book, Science at the Borders is a revisionist history uncovering the ways that the machinery of processing unskilled immigrant laborers at the nation's borders in the early 1900's helped to define inclusion into industrial citizenship, the state, and social power. Searching Eyes: Privacy, the State and Disease Surveillance in America focuses on policy challenges that arise when it becomes necessary to report the names of individuals with disease. Written with Ronald Bayer and James Colgrove, Searching Eyes sets controversies over surveillance for diseases and conditions, including tuberculosis, venereal disease, birth defects, occupational disease, cancer, vaccination status, and HIV against the backdrop of the changing social, political, and personal meanings of privacy. Dr. Fairchild teaches a History and Policy seminar and co-teaches the Department's core course. In 2003, she was the recipient of Columbia University's Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching.   View Faculty CV here (PDF).
Education & Training:

    PhD, 1997, Columbia University

    MPH, 1990, Columbia University

    BA, 1987, University of Texas


Mailman School Affiliations:

Additional Affiliations:

  • American Public Health Association
  • Organization of American HIstorians
Honors and Awards:
  • RWJ Health Policy Investigator Award, 2002-2005
  • Columbia University Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching, 2003
  • Visiting Scholar, Institute for the Medical Humanities, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Summer 2003
New York City
    Tenement Museum

    Save Ellis Island Foundation

    Martial Arts Initiative
    A third degree Black Belt, Dr. Fairchild leads the Mailman School's Marital Arts Initiative. With support from New York Goju Karate Association, she offers free classes to the Columbia community every Friday.

    Co-Director, WHO Collaborating