Wilkinson College is partnering with Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences for the 2023-24 Engaging the World (ETW): Leading the Conversation on Health Equity. The series aims to promote informed, sustained, and enriching dialogues through an in-depth exploration of how historical, cultural, social, and economic disparities impact access to health and health care.

The ETW keynote will feature author Linda Villarosa on Tuesday, September 26. Villarosa’s latest publication, Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on Health in America tells the story of racial health disparities in America, revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and our nation’s health.

“Her book gives us a narrative to understand both the physiological effects of racism on African Americans as well as the discrimination that has been institutionalized in medical education and practice in the United States,” said Dr. Alex Bay (History), a member of the ETW faculty committee that set this year’s slate of programming.

“Villarosa grounds her argument in the historical record, personal stories as well as mountains of empirical data, and she gives us a way to articulate the issues and the effects of racism on health and healthcare so we can further study, discuss, and hopefully solve some of the issues that cause this ongoing problem.”

This year’s ETW series includes film screenings, poetry talks, lectures, and other events focused on health equity, examining concepts and issues of health, wellbeing, illness, and disability in relation to diverse histories, cultures, perspectives, and communities within and beyond the United States. Planned events include, “Lessons from the Field” three health professionals discussing topics involving community partnerships, pediatrics, mentorships, challenges, and solutions (Sept. 12), “Medicine, Science, and Making Race in Civil War America” with Dr. Leslie Schwalm exposing the racist ideas and practices that shaped wartime medicine and science during the Civil War (Oct. 18), and a film screening of the documentary “Act Up” about the landmark AIDS activist group The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (Nov. 30).

“I am particularly excited by ETW programming which will highlight the ways in which marginalization, discrimination, and exclusion can manifest in the poor health and function of our bodies. These experiences can be as deleterious as the many toxins and other hazards that we minimize exposure to through policy and legislation,” said Dr. Tara L. Gruenewald (Psychology) a Crean College representative on the planning committee.

“I hope that some of what is learned by our campus community this year fuels efforts to create more healthy physical, social, and political environments,” she said.

In 2020, Wilkinson College committed itself to leading conversations on campus and in our community on issues of humanity, unity, and justice, by undertaking semester-long examinations of key societal issues. After the launch of the inaugural Engaging the World (ETW) series in 2020, Leading the Conversation on the Significance of Race, Wilkinson College introduced the Engaging the World initiative’s second series, Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on Environmental Justice, in fall 2021 and Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on Ethnic Studies, in fall 2022. For the third exploration, actor turned activist and author of They Called Us Enemy, George Takei highlighted the series with his very special talk of his years as a young boy inside a Japanese-American “relocation center” where he and his family were held under armed guard during WWII.

We hope you’ll join in the conversation. Visit the Engaging the World website to see a full list of events and mark your calendars!