The Cultural Ecology of Health and Change (CEHC) is a system of anthropology-based theoretical paradigms and research and technical assistance programs developed by Dr. Tony L. Whitehead, Professor Emeritus of the University of Maryland, College Park. CEHC paradigms and programs evolved over Dr. Whitehead’s 40 plus years career as an anthropologist involved in community based initiatives (CBIs) in the United States and abroad. The CEHC is a cultural, ecological and social change system that is informed by multiple theoretical approaches cutting across several disciplines: anthropology, health behavior and promotion, communications, social psychology, and so on.

The CEHC in its entirety is an applied research and technical assistance system with a primary focus on the planning, implementation, and evaluation of CBIs. The CEHC differs, however, from other models with similar purposes, in that it:

(1) Uses conceptual paradigms based on theories of culture that address the complexities of the socio-cultural contexts, processes, and meaning systems that influence individual ideas (knowledge, attitudes, values, beliefs, etc.) and behaviors, including health related behaviors;

(2) Is made up of four interrelated systems, each with multiple programs that integrate community assessment research and strategies of CBI design, implementation, and evaluation; and

(3) Is committed to the development of Program Technical Manuals (workbooks) and monographs designed to transfer CEHC knowledge and skills to those involved in community-based initiatives.

The CEHC is made up of three distinct, but highly interrelated theoretical paradigms:  (1) the Cultural Systems Paradigm (CSP), (2) the Cultural Systems Approach to Change (CSAC), and (3) the Cultural Systems Approach to Program Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (CSAPPE).  The four applied research and technical assistance subsystems of the CEHC are:  (1) the Ethnographically Informed Community and Cultural Assessment Research Systems (EICCARS), (2) the Project Design and Implementation Plan (PDIP), (3) the Project Implementation Programs (PIPs), and (4) Ethnographic Assessment & Evaluation Systems (EAES).