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November 27, 2000

Year of Reconciliation Symposium

Faculty panel organizers will contribute a series of columns for
Emory Report leading up to the Reconciliation Symposium, Jan. 2528, 2001.

Ben Homola is a third-year master’s of divinity student in the School of Theology.

“Reconciliation: Race, Ethnicity and Other Lines that Divide Us” Friday, Jan. 26,
1–3 p.m.; facilitated by Johnnetta Cole, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Anthropology

Why is it important for Emory to address issues surrounding diversity at this point in time?
: A number of events at Emory over the past few years and even the past few months indicate that we must continue to “reconcile our differences.” Conflicts between various groups of people that stem from fears about diversity and systemic expressions of inequality continue to heighten our awareness of racial, ethnic, religious, gender and class differences. In the largest possible sense, one could see a university education as a quest to better understand one’s own connection and contribution to the human condition. Understanding and dealing with complexities of diversity is essential to determining our role in improving, no matter how small, the human condition.

What issues, more specifically, will be addressed during the session?
During the 20th century, race relations in the United States—as described, analyzed and written about in the social sciences and in public policy—were dominated by a focus on the interactions and barriers between black and white communities. As we move into the 21st century, meaningful discussions of race and ethnicity in the United States must involve a consideration of the multiple communities that constitute our nation as a result of immigration, borderlands, globalization and transnationalization. This panel seeks to broaden the rubric of “race” beyond the black/white divide to bring forth considerations of class and gender as well as the variety of ethnic communities of which we are a part.

Who will be speaking on the panel?
I will present “Toward a Vision of Reconciliation: Moving Beyond the Binary Black/White Race Paradigm.” Dan Carter, Educational Foundation University Professor at the University of South Carolina, will present “Being Black, Being Poor: Race and Class in the Twenty-First Century.” A panel of Emory faculty representing various ethnic communities will serve as respondents.

“Medical Care and Public Health: Where is the Balance?” Saturday, Jan. 27, 9:30-11:30 a.m.; facilitated by William Foege, Presidential Distinguished Professor of International Health
What does the concept of “reconciliation” have to do with medical care and public health?
Nationally and internationally, resources for health services are limited. A Carter Center study (“Closing the Gap”) in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) indicates that roughly two-thirds of mortality among persons under 65 could be prevented using strategies currently available. And yet a very small proportion of our investment in health services is allocated for prevention.

Some argue that spending a greater proportion of health-related resources on prevention is an ethically and economically sound strategy. Others argue that society is compelled to first take care of the sick and suffering among us, even though it may not be the most efficient means to establish public health. In the politics of resource allocation, real cases attract a greater public response than theoretical cases of prevention. Reconciliation in the area of medical care and public health seeks to balance ideologies of prevention and treatment by investigating issues of health economics, ethics and value associated with national and global health policy.

What impact do you hope this panel will have on attendees?
Attendees will recognize that tough choices need to be made between prevention and treatment in a world where per capita annual health expenditures in sub-Saharan Africa are no more than $10—as compared to $4,200 in the United States. Studies on prevention show that an investment of
$1 in prenatal care will save $6 in the treatment of disease and disability, and $1 invested in childhood immunizations will save $12 in future medical care.

Who will be participating in the conversation?
I was a contributing author to “Closing the Gap” published in JAMA, and will serve as the primary presenter in this panel. Following the presentation, responses will be offered by students in the MD/MPH program: Peter Ehrenkranz, Naveen Thomas and Amanda Pederson Williams. Richard Levinson, Candler Professor and associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Public Health, will serve as the session’s moderator.


Back to Emory Report Nov. 27, 2000