About the Symposium

The symposium developed out of several ongoing initiatives at the Pennsylvania State University, particularly a Health, Society, and Environment (HSE) working group organized by Dr. Brian King and Dr. Margaret Winchester that has been meeting since May 2013.  The HSE working group includes faculty from the Departments of Geography, Sociology, Biobehavioral Health, Recreation, Parks and Tourism Management, Health Policy and Administration, and Communication Arts and Sciences.

Steering Committee

A steering committee was formed in March 2014.

  • Dr. Brian King (Geography)
  • Dr. Margaret Winchester (Biobehavioral Health)
  • Dr. Stephen Matthews (Sociology, Anthropology, Demography, Geography)
  • Dr. Jenny Trinitapoli (Sociology, Demography and Religious Studies)
  • Dr. Rhonda BeLue (Health Policy and Administration)
  • Dr. Justine Blanford (Geography)
  • Dr. Rachel Smith (Communication Arts and Sciences)
  • Dr. Lisa Davis (Health Policy and Administration)
  • Dr. Amy Snipes (Biobehavioral Health)
  • Dr. Linda Caldwell (Recreation, Park and Tourism Management)
  • Dr. Collins Airhihenbewa (Biobehavioral Health)
  • Dr. Lyn Garling (Ag extension)
  • Dr. Peter Newman (Recreation, Park and Tourism Management)
  • Dr. Melina Czymoniewicz-Klippel (Biobehavioral Health)

Symposium Goals

This two and a half day symposium has the goal of facilitating new and transformative interdisciplinary exchange from faculty working on health and environment interactions. While there is currently impressive strength in this area across University Park and within the commonwealth campuses, there remain disciplinary and institutional barriers that constrain the possibilities for cross-disciplinary integration. This in turn reduces the possibilities for synergistic collaborations needed to address the most pressing health challenges of the 21st century. The symposium is thus designed to encourage the development of new research linkages and new interdisciplinary collaborations. To this end, seed grant money is available for symposium participants from the Penn State Social Science Research Institute and the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment.  Participants and collaborators will be encouraged to submit a proposal for seed grant support in early May 2015.

Symposium Highlights

The symposium will be opened by a keynote address from Dr. Barbara Entwisle, Vice Chancellor for Research and Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, her talk is scheduled to begin at 4:30pm on March 26, in the Biobehavioral Health Building Pike Auditorium, room 22.

On Friday, March 27, attendees (roughly 45) will participate in three interactive sessions on topics designed to facilitate exchange while identifying possibilities for future collaboration. The steering committee has identified three particular themes:

  1. Human-animal interactions/transmission
  2. Networks
  3. Future directions within systems experiencing change

We have also scheduled time for a half-day wrap up session on Saturday March 28 that can be used to workshop proposal ideas.

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