Keynote & Plenary Speakers
Public health and health education are at a crossroads. Rampant misinformation and disinformation confuse and confound public decision-making and breed scientific distrust on both personal and community levels. This SOPHE Presidential Address is a call to action for health educators to engage in a new breed of tactical advocacy and speak truth to power in our professional and personal actions.
Atlanta is the cradle of people, places, and progress that shaped the Civil Rights cry for voting rights, access to public facilities and institutions, and economic and educational opportunities for African Americans.
Yet, as the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically demonstrated, the struggle for health equity is far from over.
This keynote presentation will address the contemporary health equity challenges in research, practice and pedagogy (e.g. microaggressions, discrimination, institutionalized racism) that continue to plague America. It will showcase successful innovative efforts from around the U.S. that demonstrate the power of community mobilization and collaboration, and challenge health educators to think and partner differently to make effective, sustainable change for social justice.
Racism is a system of structuring opportunity and assigning value based on the social interpretation of how one looks (which is what we call “race”), that unfairly disadvantages some individuals and communities, unfairly advantages other individuals and communities, and saps the strength of the whole society through the waste of human resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic exposed persistent problems in health disparities and health equity and underscored the need for a strengthened public health workforce. Professional preparation and training of health education specialists working in this new public health 3.0 environment will require re-thinking and innovative approaches.
In this session, panelists from various sectors will address the health education leadership pipeline for academia, research and practice in terms of competencies; approaches to workforce recruitment, diversity and retention; advocacy and fluency to address the dynamic political environment; and successful coaching and mentoring programs.
SOPHE’s contributions to expanding its diverse leadership pipeline via the Leaders in Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Fellowship Program also will be explored.
The environment in which an individual lives, works, and plays has a major impact on physical, biological and economic factors and is included among the social determinants of health.
This presentation will describe the journey of one environmental advocacy champion who investigated the environmental conditions of disenfranchised rural communities and brought national attention to the failing infrastructure that perpetuates socioeconomic disparities in rural areas across the United States.
In addition to advocacy, a call to action for the professional preparation and training of health education specialists on environmental justice will be addressed.
Recently, many state lawmakers have introduced bills that would restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions on issues related to race, racism, gender, LBGTQ+ identities, and American history.
In 2022, 36 states posted such bills, many with punitive and heavy fines such as loss of state funding for institutions, and termination or criminal charges for teachers. Such bills pose a serious risk not only to academic freedom, but also to fundamental values of free speech and open inquiry as the hallmarks of an enlightened democratic society.
This session will address how such “gag orders” are impacting curricula, administration, and other issues in K-12 and higher education, and advocacy efforts to address actions that are counter-productive to health education ethics, principles, and values.