linda villarosa and Under the Skin bookcover

Health Equity Is Focus for Annual Engaging the World Series

The 2023-24 Engaging the World series launches this fall with keynote speaker Linda Villarosa set to visit Chapman University on Sept. 26.

Villarosa is the author of “Under the Skin: The Hidden Toll of Racism on Health in America”, which tells the story of racial health disparities in the U.S., revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and the nation’s health.

Each academic year, Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences leads a campus-wide conversation on a key societal issue, with events that include lectures, panels, book discussions, film screenings and more. This year, in partnership with Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, the topic is health equity. 

Throughout the series, students, faculty and guests will examine the historical, cultural, social and economic disparities that interfere with access to health and health care, and discuss the conditions necessary for everyone – regardless of race, gender or socioeconomic ability – to have fair and just access to attain their highest level of health. 

In the wake of the pandemic, the complexities of who has access to medical treatment was more apparent than ever, says Stephanie Takaragawa, associate dean of Wilkinson College. 

“We want to look at why there are so many disparities based on things like gender, race, trans identities and socioeconomic status,” Takaragawa says.

The series will explore how the history of diverse cultures results in differing perspectives towards health care.

“For example, why people trust or don’t trust vaccines,” says Takaragawa, Ph.D. “The kinds of things that have happened to different populations in the United States could impact whether or not people want to trust health care and the government.”

“We are very excited to partner with Wilkinson’s Engaging the World Series this year particularly because of the importance of engaging our students with conversations surrounding health equity in our society,” says Janeen Hill, dean of Crean College. “I believe that supporting discussions on the historical, cultural, social and economic disparities that interfere with access to health and health care is vital for our students to understand as future healthcare providers. Increasing opportunities for everyone to live the healthiest life possible, no matter who they are, is a core value we wish to instill in our students.”

Villarosa, this year’s keynote speaker, is a journalist, educator and contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine and the 1619 project. In her book, she reveals the structural and social inequities in the American health care system that lead to higher rates of illness and shorter lifespans among Black people, compared to their white counterparts. She also shows how anti-Black beliefs have influenced medical research and practice, leading to worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients, who are also more likely to suffer from the stressors of environmental racism and communities neglected by the government.

A book signing will be held following Villarosa’s presentation at Musco Center for the Arts. Tickets are available now and the book can be purchased from the Chapman Campus Store

Other upcoming events include: 

View the entire schedule for Engaging the World: Leading the Conversation on Health Equity. 

Staci Dumoski

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