CHSS to cross interdisciplinary bridges through annual conference

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Sam Houston State University college of humanities and social sciences will host the Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences conference Wednesday.

The conference was created to bridge interdisciplinary boundaries, according to professor of English Paul Child III, Ph.D.

“The conference was begun seven years ago by several members of the college of humanities and social sciences: Alessandro Bonanno from the department of sociology, Terry Bilhartz [from the] department of history and John de Castro, then dean of the college of humanities and social sciences, who saw the need for a meeting that would break down the boundaries between and among different disciplines like clinical medicine, the social sciences and the humanities when it comes to talking about health and health-related matters,” Child said.

The conference has been held at SHSU since the beginning and hosted by the CHSS. The conferences are interdisciplinary and will cover a wide variety of topics.

“Because this is an interdisciplinary conference, it allows for many interests and approaches,” Child said. “For example, we have papers about the history of medicine and medical authority, global health and epidemiology, public health initiatives and services, medicine and the arts, and health and the environment. A little something for everyone, I hope.”

The topics cover a wide range of information including social media and its effects.

“There is a paper that will look at the effects of social media on women’s health – specifically on eating disorders,” Child said. “There is another that looks at how the British empire of the early twentieth century grappled with epidemics in its colonies. Yet another suggests how one might use a Spanish film about disability to teach critical thinking and second-language skills. All of these show different possibilities for combining disciplinary interests and approaches to arrive at new conclusions about the topics and for finding common ground for discussion and action among health care professionals, social scientists and scholars who don’t seem, at first, to have much in common.”

Students and faculty are encouraged to attend as many events as they desire.

“We hope to have as many audience members as possible for both the plenary address and paper sessions the next day,” Child said. “All of those events are open and free to the public.”

There is also a welcome dinner in Austin Hall tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. and a luncheon Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom. Those who wish to attend either event need to register for the conference at the event’s website for a small fee which covers the meal.

The event is in memoriam of Terry Bilhartz, who died last year. Bilhartz was a professor of History and associate dean of the college of humanities and social sciences.

The program’s handout said the college of humanities and social sciences dedicated the 2015 Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences Conference to Bilhartz’s memory, whose energies and generosity of spirit sustained the annual conference from its infancy. The program continued by saying Bilhartz remains in the hearts of family, friends, colleagues and those who share his devotion to the ideals of the conference.

The primary address is scheduled for tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Evans Auditorium. The paper sessions will occur on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the LSC Ballroom.