Faculty Profile: Arisika Razak
How did you get involved with the field of integrative health?
When I began work as a midwife, I knew that pregnancy was not a disease. In twenty years of practice as a home birth attendant, hospital-based nurse midwife, and health care administrator, I also learned that midwifery was notthe practice of medicine or obstetrics. I worked with indigent populations and local and global communities of color - learning about shared patient-provider responsibility, the role of government in health care delivery, and the importance of culturally sensitive health care services. Many of my clients came from countries where alternative health practices and spiritual health beliefs were normal. They combined Western health practices with traditional health beliefs. From them I gained a wealth of knowledge and insight about the contemporary use of complementary and alternative modalities and the collaborative power of integrative health practices.
What are some of your research interests?
I have a strong background in women’s health, ethnic studies and women’s spirituality. Women are the majority of the world’s population, but their health needs are often marginalized. I am interested in applying integrated health services to women’s’ health issues — whether we are talking about chemical and environmental pollution, reproductive tract cancers, menopause and aging, or structural and sexual violence. I feel very passionate about working to make sure that the integrative health paradigm is extended to marginalized and indigent populations — and ensuring that our students are prepared to work in many different types of settings. I am heartened by programs that offer meditation classes in prisons, acupuncture and homeopathy services to the homeless, and free integrative drop-in services to communities of color.
Why is CIIS an ideal place to study Integrative Health Studies?
CIIS has been at the forefront of efforts to provide an integral education that emphasizes the importance of mind, body, and spirit. Our Integrative Health Studies classes are academically rigorous, and personally transformative. Theoretical courses in integrative health methodologies, integrative research, epidemiology, environmental health, and science, spirituality, and healing provide a balanced academic foundation for the study of integrative health. We believe in supporting our students’ physical and emotional well-being: we offer classes in integrative health modalities, diverse meditation techniques, and sound and healing practices that nourish and support student balance and health. Many of our classes begin with experiential exercises, movement, or mind-body-spirit practices and we encourage and support the self-reflective and healing disciplines of yoga, meditation, and other embodied spiritual practices in Integrative Health Studies classes, the greater CIIS community or the larger world.
What is special and unique about CIIS’s Integrative Health Studies program?
One of the things that is unique about the Integrative Health Studies program at CIIS is our commitment to diversity. We want our students to function as culturally competent professionals in an increasingly multicultural and pluralistic world. This commitment is reflected in all aspects of our curriculum, as well as in the diversity of our faculty and our internship sites. Integrative Health Studies courses review the issues of health care delivery to mainstream, underserved, and stigmatized populations locally and globally. The communication practicum teaches students how to communicate across the barriers of race and class, and how to facilitate and mediate conflict. Our multicultural and diverse faculty has experience with complementary and alternative modalities, public and community health, conventional Western medicine, global health issues, and diverse spiritual practices. The program’s internship sites offer health care, research, and educational services to mainstream, marginalized, and vulnerable communities.
Listen to Arisika Razak on Forum radio talk show on "Feminism and Spirituality."