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Policy research and public scholarship at disciplinary frontiers. “Partnerships for Preparedness” A Joint Symposium of the Association of Schools of Public Health and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges April 2007 Atlanta, Georgia. Justin Kastner, Ph.D.

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Policy research and public scholarship at disciplinary frontiers l.jpg

Policy research and public scholarship at disciplinary frontiers

“Partnerships for Preparedness”

A Joint Symposium of the Association of Schools of Public Health and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges

April 2007

Atlanta, Georgia

Justin Kastner, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Food Safety &Security

Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology

Kansas State University


[email protected]

Jason Ackleson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Government Department

New Mexico State University

[email protected]

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Why interdisciplinary research (IDR)?

Thought leaders and thought-leading institutions, including the National Academies, encourage IDR.

Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (2004). Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.

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The Frontier Program - http://fss.k-state.edu/frontier

  • Frontier – interdisciplinary program for the historical studies of border security, food security, and trade policy:

  • Scholarship about frontiers (borders)

  • Scholarship at disciplinary and institutional frontiers

  • Public and academic scholarship:

  • Historically-rooted analysis

  • Policy-relevant products

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Educational benefits

  • As scholars cross disciplinary frontiers they...

    • ...must translate discipline-specific language

    • ...must interpret and explain assumptions

    • ...inevitably must hone their critical thinking skills

Education is what remains when the facts are no longer relevant.

– Dr. K. Patricia Cross, paraphrase courtesy of Dr. John Pickrell

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Graduate students and interns – example projects

  • The historical role of export certification

  • For the Dictionary of Transnational History (encyclopedia):

    • History of the germ theory of disease

    • History of food safety standards

  • Multicultural dimension of the food industry

  • Rural Kansas hospital preparedness for pandemic influenza

  • TSE surveillance and the sociology of risk

  • GIS, FSS, and international relations

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Historical insights for the AAVMC-ASPH joint symposium…

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Texas Fever

  • Texas longhorns trampling Kansas crops and spreading Texas Fever

  • Texas Fever also termed Spanish fever, (incorrectly) splenic fever, and tick fever

  • Texas longhorns

    • immune from long-term exposure to the protozoan parasite

    • carried and shed the tick

  • Kansas cattle were susceptible

    • 4 out of 5 infected animals died

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Texas Fever

February 11, 1865 | Kansas acts

Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Kansas:

...If any person or persons other than immigrants shall drive or cause to be driven any cattle or other stock, by the single head or in a drove or droves, through or into any county, in this State from the State of Texas, or from the territory south of the south line of this State, he or she or they, for every such offense, on conviction thereof in the district...court, shall be fined in a sum not less than one thousand dollars, and imprisonment in the penitentiary of the State not less than one year.


Approved February 11, 1865.

S.J. CRAWFORD, Governor.

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Texas Fever

  • Trail drives of 1866 | violent encounters

  • 1867 | Joseph McCoy

    • Establishes at Abilene “a depot or market to which a Texan drover could bring his stockunmolested”

    • Entices the Union Pacific Railroad to accommodate cattle pens (and give him a commission on every carload of cattle shipped)

    • Persuades the Kansas governor not to enforce quarantine againsttransient Texas cattle

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Texas Fever

1867 | Kansas asks the USDA for help

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1868 | John Gamgee

British veterinary consultant

Hired by the USDA to investigate outbreaks of Texas Fever in Illinois, Kansas, and Missouri

Notes that contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia is also a problem in the U.S.

Investigations of Texas Fever lead to discovery of other diseases

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1879 | An embarrassing year for U.S. animal health & food safety

Winter of 1878-1879:

British veterinary authorities intensify disease-control measures at ports

January 26, 1879:

pleuro-pneumonia diagnosed in U.S. cattle landed at Liverpool

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1879 | An embarrassing year for U.S. animal health & food safety

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1879 | An embarrassing year for U.S. animal health & food safety

  • U.S. cattle, swine, and sheep subject to “immediate-slaughter” restrictions at ports due to:

    • Contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia

    • Foot and mouth disease

    • Classical swine fever, or hog cholera

  • Immediate slaughter of U.S. pigs affords opportunity to microscopically examine pork

    • Trichina spiralis suspicions confirmed

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John Shaw Billings, MD

Brilliant public-health thought leader

Staff member, U.S. Army Surgeon-General’s office

Laid the foundation for the National Library of Medicine, et cetera

Believed that a newly-created National Board of Health should address “the very important question of wholesome food supply.”

March 28, 1879

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March 28, 1879

Dr. J.S. Billings argued:

  • Both animal-health and food-safety policy should be crafted at the National Board of Health

  • Combining human- and animal-disease studies is helpful “because of the light which each will throw on the other.”

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A missed opportunity?

Contrary to Dr. J.S. Billings’s hopes, the National Board of Health concerned with only “human” diseases

The U.S. Veterinary Medical Association argues in January 1880 that “the veterinary profession, who alone have made a special study of these epizootics,” was best suited to deal with animal diseases

1881 | U.S. government creates veterinary regulatory body, the Treasury Cattle Commission (in 1884, upgraded to the U.S. Bureau of Animal Industry)

1882 | Congress formally declares that the National Board of Health’s duties and investigations “shall be confined to the diseases of cholera, small-pox and yellow fever.”

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Frontier activities related to cross-border cooperation…

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Regionalization and Compartmentalization

The London Times May 13, 1890

Food safety and animal disease risk management should be taken with reference to particular commodity supply chains and geographic regions—not merely nation-states.

- Dr. Brian Evans (paraphrase)

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SW NM Border Security Task Force

Routinely-held, problem-solving forum for citizens, stakeholders, policymakers, farmers, and law enforcement personnel in the Southwest New Mexico region

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We are not students of some subject matter, but students of problems. And problems may cut right across the borders of any subject matter or discipline.

- The late Karl Popper, former professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science

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