The Culture Clinic

5 concentric cirlces in various shades of blue with a center that is yellow

What is The Culture Clinic?

Whether you are trying to change your own behavior to improve your health or achieve collective change to improve societal wellbeing, understanding how culture operates is critical. The Culture Clinic is our flagship experimental space where we work with clients to help them shift their perspectives and transform their practice using story. It's the heart of our education efforts to produce wellbeing in the world and where we translate research into practice. This clinic uses Dr. Mehret Mandefro's methodology for communicating across challenging divides to shift perspectives and transform behaviors. This clinic was based on the Human Rights Clinic (HRC) which was founded in the Bronx, NY as a Partnership with North Central Bronx Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center's Residency Program in Primary Care and Social Internal Medicine. The origins of the Human Rights Clinic (HRC) dates back to the early nineties when Dr. Jonathan Mann, the father of the health and human rights movement, went to Guantanamo where Haitian asylum seekers were being detained indefinitely, many with HIV. Through that work - and advocacy documenting these asylum seekers' trauma - the HRC was born.

Dr. Jonathan Mann's work serves as a guiding beacon that undergirds all of our efforts. Dr. Mann was a mentor to Dr. Mandefro and the college professor that shifted her perspective to see the effects that the broader world has on health. The Culture Clinic builds on these foundational roots connecting health to human rights.


The methodology and theory of change governing The Culture Clinic was born of Dr. Mehret Mandefro's work with her patients in the South Bronx and has grown far beyond it. Her story-based work in the published and unpublished literature informs our approach to behavior change and cultural shift. For the past 15 years we have worked with clients across a broad swath of sectors to explore alternative learning models to achieve behavior change and cultural shift by creating the future one story at a time. We refer to this work as "audiovisual medicine".

Four principles from this work that are critical to our pedagogy:

  • navigating complexity and contradiction are focus points for targeting the social barriers to wellbeing;

  • changing people's behavior is relational and rooted in disrupting historical patterns;

  • studying up gradients of power is the rate-limiting step in behavior change efforts and cultural shift;

  • learning is the fundamental process that underpins transformation.

We will be sharing resources that dive deep into our archive to disseminate the lessons learned from our body of work on our website and have assembled a new board of scientists and artists to help extend our reach. The secret in our sauce is unifying art and science in one analytic lens to approach truths that are hard to tell.

Our latest research project The Fragile Real was funded by the International Resource for Impact and Storytelling (IRIS) and the Ford Foundation. It is the unfolding publication that we will use to communicate about this work.