Sandra Ham's picture

Real name: 

Primary Discipline

Primary Discipline: 

  • Social Sciences

Further Specification: 

Secondary Discipline

Secondary Discipline: 

  • Applied SciencesSystems ScienceSystem dynamicsSocial dynamics

Further Specification: 

Philosophy, Ecology, Systems Dynamics, Societal Design


I am a contemplative with a day job, called to do high-level integrative work across science and religion that addresses the world's biggest problems. I have degrees in mechanical engineering, nutritional science, and divinity---a combination that provides a good foundation for a generalist who synthesizes, critiques, and designs societies using gems from dozens of disciplines. My career path began with over 10 years in manufacturing making a variety of products ranging from diapers to typewriter ribbons to Space Shuttles and rockets. I also worked for nearly 10 years in public health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There I did my own scientific research, project management, and strategic planning. I was involved with the origins of the movement that spanned public health, transportation, education, and parks and recreation to promote physical activity across multiple sectors of society including shifting focus from the gym to the built environment. More recently I added religion, theology, and philosophy to my already interdisciplinary science and engineering background. I use my skills in statistics and experience in medical and public health research to support my independent scholarly work. Currently, I am a Biostatistical Consultant at Sandra Ham Consulting in Buffalo, New York, with clients at the University of Chicago. For NCIS, I am an Editor of H-Scholar.

Current research areas: 

I am currently working on a book about solving the world's biggest problems of overpopulation, political polarization, social fragmentation, hopelessness, and climate change. I do this by critiquing modernity as a societal system and designing an alternative societal system which is a candidate for "what comes next." I use system dynamics and sociological schemas to map and synthesize liberal international governance frameworks and intellectual trajectories, conservative social critique, and international frameworks for addressing ecological destruction and the Anthropocene. A good alternative, I propose, is grounded in Christian tradition, particularly the theology, philosophy, moral values, and tacit knowledge from the pre-modern European fourth through thirteenth centuries. I argue using system dynamics models that Christian Neoplatonism can be the foundation of a future societal system design that works significantly better than early twenty-first century modernity and post-modernity. My societal system design offers, if we choose, a philosophical foundation that foregrounds medieval tacit knowledge, thereby allowing us to, in practice, live as one species among many, coexisting in an ecosystem---with lesser degrees of the big problems I address. Moreover, I show how our alternative future may be possible without sinking into dystopia, totalitarianism, or human extinction.

Recent scholarly activity: 

I gave myself a sabbatical for writing and attending online conferences to fill in gaps in my toolkit. Along the way I picked up system dynamics as a major set of tools and among the last of the disciplines that need to be integrated. I am also an active member of the College Theology Society (CTS), having recently convened the section, History of Catholic Life and Thought at 2020-2022 annual conventions. In 2022 I volunteered to organize the Independent Scholars and Contingent Faculty Caucus for CTS.

Recent publications: 

All of my recent publications are medical research conducted as a statistician with researchers at the University of Chicago. Independent scholarly publications are forthcoming.

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