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Jessica Eckhardt

Jessica Eckhardt

Lecturer in Rural Community Health
Kelley Hall 223


Ph.D., University of Utah, Sociology, 2017
M.S., University of Nevada, Reno, Sociology, 2009
B.S., Northland College, Sociology and Biology, 2007


How did you discover Western?

As a child growing up in Denver, we visited Gunnison and the Western Slope region on camping and fishing adventures- so my love for the region is wedded to fond childhood memories. As an educator and academic, I found WCU’s dedication to small class sizes, experiential learning and student research very enticing.

What are some of the highlights of your career?

Creating an interdisciplinary course in response to Covid-19 that brought students and community members together to discuss how the pandemic was shaping our lives and broader society; topics ranged from virology and climate change to social justice and musical pandemic playlists. Read more here.

What most excites you about your field?

Sociologists study various forms of inequality (e.g. poverty, racial discrimination, environmental inequality, health disparities) and solutions to social problems. I love thinking about creative community-based and policy driven solutions that could address injustice and bring about social and environmental equity.

What is your favorite thing about the Gunnison Valley?

Our community!

Courses taught:

MBS 601: Behavioral Science and Community Health
MBS 605: Health Disparities
MBS 611: Program Planning & Evaluation
Special Topics Courses include: Landscapes, Health, and Environmental Justice and Reproductive Justice


  • Brailsford, Jennifer, Jessica Eckhardt, Terrence Hill and Andrew Jorgenson. 2019. “Race, Environmental Inequality, and Physical Health” in Research in the Sociology of Health: Underserved and Socially Disadvantaged Groups and Linkages with Health and Health Care Differentials, edited by J. Kronenfeld. Emerald Press.
  • Eckhardt, Jessica. 2018. “Integrating Sociological Perspectives into Obesogenic Research: Associations between Air pollution Exposure and Obesity Prevalence across U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas”. Socius.
  • Kamimura, Akiko, Jessica Eckhardt, Liana Prudencio, Kyl Myers and Todd Goddell. 2016. “Physician migration: Experiences of International medical graduates in the U.S.” Journal of International Migration and Integration. 1-19.
  • Hill, Terrence, Burt Uchino, Jessica Eckhardt, and Jacqueline Angel. “Perceived Social Support Trajectories and the All-Cause Mortality Risk of Older Mexican American Women and Men.” Research on Aging. 38:374-398.

Media Interviews and Op-Eds

  • August 11, 2020 Eckhardt, J and A. Bertana. Op-Ed in Bangor Daily News. “Rise in Disease is Linked to Loss of our Forests”
  • April 30, 2020 Eckhardt, J. Forbes Interview. “The Virus Has Demonstrated That Faculty Can Be Full Partners in Changing The Higher Education Business Model.”
  • April 24, 2020 Eckhardt, J. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Interview. “Northland College Offers Online Pandemic Class Integrating Health, Biology, Recreation, and Music.”

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