A Successful 7th Annual Bissell Grogan Symposium

On January 17, the School hosted the 7th Annual Kenyon Bissell Grogan Humanities Symposium. This year's theme was Global Health. The Keynote speaker, Dr. Mardge Cohen, spoke about her work and experience in Rwanda with an organization called Womenís Equity in Access to Care and Treatment (WE-ACTx).

WE-ACTx provides a holistic approach to treating and caring for women and children infected with HIV/AIDS. Cohen, who has been a part of the organization since 2003, described the problems her patients face such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder from sexual and domestic violence, poverty, hunger, legal issues, lack of access to medicine and education, as well as social stigma and marginalization. WE-ACTx has a multitude of programs to help their patients with all of those situations, from income generation and vocational programs, to food supplements and mental health services. They even have yoga classes, a summer camp for children, support groups, and legal aid. Everything they provide is free of charge.

While 1.2 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS in North America, 22 million are infected in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cohen emphasized that failure to meet basic human necessities, misunderstanding, and gender inequality, continue to contribute to the African HIV/AIDS crises.

Janet Ackerman, a research assistant at Silent Spring Institute examined how household products can be dangerous and what individuals need to know about them.

Dr. Carole Counihan, Ph.D., an anthropologist and visiting professor at Boston University, spoke about food democracy and food sovereignty.

Catherine D’Amato, the president and CEO of the Greater Boston Food Bank presented about hunger in the area and how the food bank works.

Dr. Sangeeta Mookherji, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Global Health at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. talked about her work in such places as Ethiopia and Bangladesh and how individuals can make a difference by working in global health.

Helen Osborne, President of Health Literacy Consulting, discussed the importance of communication on health information in ways that patients, families and employees understand.

Rachael Plitch, the coordinator for Shape Up Somerville, spoke about this city-wide campaign to increase daily physical activity and healthy eating through programming, physical infrastructure improvements, and policy work.

Dr. David Russell, D.M.D., a dentist who practices in Boston, talked about global health issues in the Philippines and the lessons that we can draw from it.

Dr. Julianna Schantz-Dunn, M.D., an attending physician in the Division of Global Obstetrics and Gynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has worked in Uganda, Kenya, Niger, Haiti, and Mexico with global health workers.

Francey Slater, the Education Director for CitySprouts in Cambridge, a nonprofit garden program that works with children and teachers in 12 public schools, spoke about integrating school gardens in a curriculum and the benefits of the program.

Mahlet Woldemariam ’95, a vaccine researcher for the pharmaceutical company Novartis, discussed her work as a researcher and trends in vaccines in treating viruses in the world today.

Dr. William Young, M.D. and Jennifer Murray, talked about their work with the Lwala Community Alliance, which works on women’s health and AIDS issues in Kenya.
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