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Faculty & Staff Directory

Stephen Koester, Ph.D.

Steve Koester

Email: Steve Koester
Office Location: Administration Building 270E
Phone: (303) 556-6795
Fax: (303) 556-8501
Office hours: By appointment
Areas of Expertise:
Medical anthropology, qualitative methods, marginalized populations

Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1986
M.A. Anthropology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 1976
B.A. University of Denver/University of Colorado at Boulder, 1971


Dr. Koester's work examines the structural conditions that affect people’s lives and their responses to these conditions. His work revolves around issues related to health and the intersection of health and environment. Conceptual frameworks which inform his Dr. Koester's work include structural violence, social suffering and “risk” environments. He have worked with marginalized, disenfranchised populations including drug users, sex workers and traditional resource users (farmers, laborers and fishermen). His publications have detailed how law enforcement strategies and the tenuous economic situations of streetbased drug users combine and exacerbate the likelihood of blood borne disease transmission and research conducted with traditional resource users has focused on their responses to manifestations of economic restructuring – the end of tariff protection and the demise of the Windward Island banana industry, development-imposed environmental change, and resource management schemes.

Dr. Koester's current research activities include being a 1) co-investigator on an HCV R0-1 with colleagues in epidemiology and virology at Yale, 2) co-PI on a CCTIS grant on overdose with Ingrid Binswanger, 3) co-investigator on a R-34 with Ingrid Binswanger (PI) examining the feasibility of prescribing naloxone to patients with opioid prescriptions, and 4) concluding fieldwork on a study of homelessness and policing in Denver. Two papers will be presented on this study at the American Association of Geographers' annual meeting in Tampa in April, and at the International Sociological Association meeting in Yokohama in July.

In addition to Dr. Koester's extensive research, he was a Fulbright Research/Lecturing Scholar in Vietnam, a Fulbright Research Scholar in St. Lucia, an Inter-American Foundation Doctoral Fellow, Organization of American States Fellow and has served as a Senior Behavioral Scientist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  He has received the Research of the Year Award at the University-wide level, as well as within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences here at the University of Colorado Denver.

Koester S. The Disconnect between China’s Public Health and Public Security Responses to Injection Drug Use, and the Consequences for Human Rights. PLosMedicine. In press.

Koester S, Glanz J and Baron A.  Drug Sharing Among Heroin Networks: Implications for HIV and Hepatitis B and C Prevention. AIDS & Behavior. 2005:9(1)27-39.

Burris S, Donogoe M, Sherman S, Blankenship K, Vernick J, Case P, Lazzarini Z and Koester S.  Addressing the Risk Environment for Injection Drug Users: The Case of the Missing Cop. Milbank Quarterly. 2004:82(1) 125-56.  

Blankenship K and Koester S. Criminal Law, Policing Policy, and HIV Risks in Street Workers and Injection Drug Users. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 2002; 30(4): 548-559.

Sandersen H and Koester S. Co-Management of Tropical Coastal Zones: The Case of the Soufriere Marine Management Area, St. Lucia, WI. Coastal Management 2000; 28:85-95.

Koester S. Invited letter. Following the Blood: Syringe Re-use Leads to Blood borne Viral Transmission among Injection Drug Users. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 1998; 18(Supplement 1): S139.

Koester S, Booth R and Zhang Y. The Prevalence of Additional Injection Related HIV Risk Behaviors Among Injection Drug Users. The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes 1996; 2(2): 202-07.

Koester S and L Hoffer. Indirect Sharing: Additional Risks Associated with Drug Injection. AIDS and Public Policy 1994; 9(2): 100-105.

Koester S. Copping, Running and Paraphernalia Laws: Contextual Variables and Needle Risk Behavior Among Drug Users in Denver. Human Organization 1994; 53(3): 287-295.

Booth R, Koester S, Reichardt C and Brewster J. Quantitative and Qualitative Methods to Assess Behavioral Change Among Injection Drug Users. Drugs and Society 1993; 7(3/4): 161-183.

Koester S. A Close Encounter of the Third World: West Indian Fishermen and Supertankers. Cultural Survival 1987; 11(2).

Koester S. Ethnography and Injection Drug Use. In HIV Prevention in the Community: Perspectives on the Individual, Community and Political Action. Tim Rhodes and Richard Hartinoll, editors, London: Routledge. 1996.

Koester S. Applying the Methodology of Participant Observation to the Study of Injection Related HIV Risks. In Qualitative Methods in Drug Abuse and HIM Research. National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Monograph Series 157: 84-99. Ashery R and Lambert E, editors. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse.1995.

Koester S. The Context of Risk: Ethnographic Contributions to the Study of HIV. In The Context of Risk Among Drug Users and Their Sexual Partners. National Institute on Drug Abuse Research Monograph Series 143: 202-217. Batjes R, Sloboda Z and Grace W, editors. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse. 1994.

Koester S. Applying an Outreach-oriented Public Health model in Three Denver Neighborhoods. In Community Based Research and AIDS Prevention. Van Vught J. ed. Bergin and Garvey Press. 1993.

Koester S. and Schwartz J. Crack, Gangs, Sex and Powerlessness: A View from Denver. In Sex, Crack and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: An Eight City Ethnographic Study. Mitchell Ratner ed. Lexington Press. 1993.

Koester S. Plantation Agriculture to Oil Storage; Rural Adjustments to Economic Development. Environment African, Caribbean Environment No.2 ENDA-Caribe: Dominican Republic.1986.

Qualitative Research Methods 
The Global AIDS Pandemic
Medical Anthropology
Applied Anthropology
Development and Conservation
Political Economy of Drugs
Anthropological Theory and Cultural Diversity
Contemporary World Problems
Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean
Cultural Ecology and Resource Management
Introductory Courses in Cultural Anthropology