Profile: Michael L. Dorn

Michael Dorn, Assistant Professor of urban education, and Coordinator of the Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Mike’s research focuses on the history of public health, population surveillance, and subaltern resistance to biomedical authority. His abiding interest is in the history of ideas regarding the impact of the physical and human-built environment on health.

Michael Dorn was born in Berkeley, California, during the late 1960’s peace and civil rights struggles. He was moved by his parents as a toddler to Columbia, Missouri, where life was a little more peaceful. During those early years in Missouri, he developed a fascination with maps and travel that stuck with him. Except for six months near Washington, DC, most of his formative years were spent in the Midwest, including 15 years (middle school through college) in Columbus, Ohio. Mike earned his BS degree in architecture from the Ohio State University in 1990; his MS in Geography at the Pennsylvania State University in 1994; and his PhD in Geography at the University of Kentucky in 2002.

Although much of Mike’s work is U.S.-based, he is planning to undertake international comparative research, with a focus on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Since autumn of 2002, in addition to coordinating and teaching in the diability studies program, he has taught and advised in the Urban Education Program of the Department of Education Leadership and Policy Studies. Students in Mike’s classes learn to appreciate the cultural, political and economic diversity to be found everywhere, both far and near. For the past four summers he has brought students from Temple University to the rural Jamican parish of St. Thomas ( see TU Study Abroad ). There they partner with community organizations such as schools, women’s centers, and rural development agencies. Students pursue projects of mutual interest while the non-profit Edu-Tourism, Inc. works to ensure that these projects move forward. He has also participated in a project where high school students enroll in a curriculum combining field work, laboratory exercises, interactive lectures and career exploration interviews ( view this link ).

Mike’s work has appeared in the Professional Geographer, Disability Studies Quarterly, Health and Place and The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. He currently serves as chair emeritus for the AAG MGSG. He spends his spare time revising his dissertation as a book manuscript, with the provisional title Medical Geography and the American Frontier, and completing chapters building on this work for two other edited collections.

Mike may be contacted at

Updated: December 2007