State of the Unions conference, Brussels; Credit: FEPS

Nationhood Lab will be engaged in a variety of initiatives, from convenings and presentations to collaborations with partner organizations engaged in the protection of the American experiment. Watch this space as the project unfolds ahead of the United States’ 250th birthday in 2026.

Public Health and the American Nations research collaborative

Nationhood Lab has joined researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago and the Minneapolis-based HealthPartners Institute to study regional differences in various indices of health via the American Nations model. In the first ten months of this collaboration the core research team — Ross Arena from UIC, HealthPartners president Nico Pronk, and Nationhood Lab director Colin Woodard — and their collaborators have published thirteen scientific papers in six peer-reviewed journals: The Lancet Regional Health – Americas, Progress in Cardiovascular Disease, Current Problems in Cardiology, the American Journal of Medicine, the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention and the Journal of Activity, Sedentary and Sleep Behaviors. Their work has explored regional differences in obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, sleep disturbances, disabilities, healthy dietary practices, life expectancy, and the Social Vulnerability Index, as well as the overlap of physical inactivity to the density of church congregations and political behavior. They have also developed a new Lifestyle Health Index and applied it to show the interrelationship between voter participation and health outcomes at the U.S. county-level, subject of their commentary in The Lancet‘s regional journal for the western hemisphere. On the strength of this work, in late September 2023 Woodard presented the work of Nationhood Lab and the utility of the American Nations model at a meeting of the National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Engineering’s working group on obesity solutions. Additional research is underway and multiple papers are in-review that leverage the insights in American Nations to better understand and mitigate a wide range of regional health disparities in the United States.

Teaching and Debating United States National Narratives

Nationhood Lab has started a new collaborative initiative to provide curricular support for the work of David R. McMahon, professor of history at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, who uses American Nations, Union, American Character and Nationhood Lab’s data journalism in the classroom. McMahon is teaching and perfecting a history instructional unit entitled “The Problem of Union: A New National Story” which introduces students to debates over America’s origins and competing national myths, and engage them in an effort to create a new, more effective national narrative for the future. From this he also intends to create a deliberative, nonpartisan dialogue guide suitable for community conversations modeled on the National Issues Forums (NIFI) Issue Guides. McMahon’s work is eminently scalable, a task Nationhood Lab will assist with over the coming year.