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Past Presentations

Sewage Surveillance for Providing Actionable Public Health Data for Oklahoma 

Date: June 24, 2022

The University of Oklahoma Sewage Surveillance Team emerged as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic to provide an early warning system to disease surges at OU dorms, and swiftly expanded to neighborhoods and communities across the state of Oklahoma. Recipients of OU’s Vice President for Research and Partnerships Award for Excellence in Transdisciplinary, Convergent Research (2022), as well as significant funding from e.g., the Rockefeller Foundation, the team includes researchers from both OU Norman and OU-HSC in engineering, microbiology, public health, epidemiology, and urban planning. Together they have developed cutting-edge innovations in sampling, laboratory methods, epidemiological analysis, and public-health communication. Their research is able to provide a 5-10 day lead time for COVID-19 cases, and has recently expanded to include SARS-CoV-2 variant and subvariant detection, along with surveillance of seven additional infectious diseases, and most recently illicit drugs, in wastewater.

Health Care Professionals and Vaccine Hesitancy across the Americas

Date: May 9, 2022

As the world learns how to live with COVID-19, vaccinating as many individuals as possible becomes paramount. At the same time, due to the disease’s public profile and politicization, vaccine hesitancy grew, posing challenges to public health systems and authorities even in countries that had a strong tradition of mass vaccination. Vaccine hesitancy is not just in the society at large, but also among health care professionals. This adds complexity to the problem, since these professionals play a decisive role in convincing ordinary citizens to vaccinate. But these professionals are embedded in institutional systems and social relationships that can enable or constrain their behavior. How does this dynamic between structure and agency play out and what effects can it have to the increase or decrease of vaccine hesitancy? This webinar will report on a convergent, transdisciplinary, and transnational research project currently being designed to investigate these issues in Brazil and the US.

Literature and Medicine: How the Humanities Can and Should Contribute to Healthcare Training

Date: January 27, 2022

This presentation highlights the pioneering cross-disciplinary work of Ronald Schleifer, Ph.D, Professor of English; and Jerry Vannatta, MD. Schleifer and Vannatta have been team-teaching and co-authoring work on the Health Humanities since 1999. The Presentation will be begin with a short introduction to their work: how Dr. Vannatta discovered how engagements with literature enhanced his engagements with patients in the clinic; and how Professor Schleifer discovered how the practical work of clinical medicine allowed him new ways of thinking about, teaching, and analyzing literature.

Plague in Europe 1898-WWII: Wellspring of the Global War on Rats

Date: October 12, 2021

In the half century after 1899, Europeans reported 1,692 cases and 457 deaths from bubonic plague. Before then, European health experts believed that “industrialized” or “civilized” living made Europe plague-proof. When pandemic plague in Europe undermined this belief, an international chorus of doctors, engineers, and scientists declared a world-wide “war on rats” as plague carriers. In this OU Humanity and Health webinar, Dr. Pete Soppelsa and Dr. Darcie DeAngelo discuss this war, and its embodied ideas about cross-species relations of humans and animals, and cross-cultural relations of Europe with its neighbors—in ways that are relevant for understanding the politics of pandemics today. 

Dr. Peter Soppelsa holds a BA in Philosophy from Oberlin College (2000) and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Michigan (2009). He works in the fields of urban history, environmental history, and the history of technology, informed by attention to theory, method, and interdisciplinary approaches. His research interests include urban infrastructure, envirotech, the Anthropocene, animal studies, mobility studies, and public health in modern European and global histories. He was managing editor of Technology and Culture from 2010 to 2020 and is the co-editor with Suzanne Moon of History of Technology: Critical Readings, 4 vols. (Bloomsbury, 2020).

The webinar series “Humanity and Health” serves as a focus for research and reflection about the social, economic, psychological, educational, and public health crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. These webinar events, which are free and open to the public, are hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships and are co-sponsored with the College of Arts and Sciences, the Hudson College of Public Health, the Office of the Vice President for Research (OU Health Sciences), and the OU Arts and Humanities Forum.

Global Networks: COVID-19 and the Commodification of Nature.

Date: September 7, 2021

Hunter Heyck, professor of the History of Science, will examine the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of certain transformations in science, technology, and society. The pandemic can be understood as a product of the commodification of nature, and of the creation of a global network oriented around continuous flows of people, materials, capital, and information. Further, it can be viewed as a product of the shift from natural geography to human geography, including political geography, as the fundamental variable affecting both case and mortality rates in epidemic disease.

Music for Health and Healing in Early Modern England

Featuring Dr. Linda Austern and Dr. Jennifer Saltzstein
Date Recorded: May 4, 2021

In this Humanity and Health webinar, Dr. Linda Austern and Dr. Jennifer Saltzstein discuss music, health, and the social process of music therapy. In sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, music was considered a powerful therapeutic agent, able to maintain each individual’s health based on unique constitution. It was also deemed capable of healing a wide range of mental and physical disorders by means of many kinds of vocal and instrumental practices with which people across the social spectrum could engage as they chose.

From City to Room: The Use of Light and Air to Address Air Quality and Airborne Disease and Their Impacts on Design

Featuring Dr. Lee Fithian and Elizbeth Pober
Date Recorded: April 19, 2021

Recorded history shows a multitude of city and building design requirements to address the spread of disease, and in this free Humanity and Health webinar, Dr. Lee Fithian and Director Elizbeth Pober will share some of the latest design interventions in the era of COVID-19 that are leading to changes in urban design, buildings and interior spaces

The Heart of The Matter: American Cardiology and Cold War Diplomacy, 1955-65

Featuring Dr. Sarah Tracey and Dr. Peter Soppelsa 
Date Recorded: April 6, 2021

Dr. Sarah Tracey will be hosting this free Humanity & Health webinar centered on heart disease, diplomacy, and Cold War political cooperation. In the early years of the Cold War, heart disease, much like American jazz, became a vehicle for transnational diplomacy between the United States and the Soviet Union. This webinar will examine the global scientific and diplomatic agendas of two prominent cardiovascular disease researchers: nutritional physiologist Ancel Keys and President Eisenhower's cardiologist Paul Dudley White, as they built connections between Communist bloc nations and the United States as part of a "Health for Peace" program.

In Medicine, With History

Featuring Dr. Rhona Seidelman and Dr. William Seidelman
Date Recorded: March 2, 2021

What can the history of medicine offer us in the age of COVID-19? Why should physicians study a critical history of their profession? In conversation with his daughter, Dr. Rhona Seidelman, Dr. William Seidelman will reflect on the benefits and challenges of approaching a medical career with an historical outlook. The discussion will focus on Dr. Seidelman’s clinical work caring for patients from the earliest days of the AIDS epidemic and his forty years of scholarship on the history of medicine during the Nazi period with an emphasis on the exploitation of the bodies of victims of Nazi terror, particularly the ethical challenges surrounding the use of the Pernkopf Atlas of Human Anatomy.

COVID-19 and the Political Assault on Public Health

Featuring Dr. Tassie Hirschfeld and Dr. Jennifer Ross
Date Recorded: March 1, 2021

Dr. Tassie Hirschfeld and Dr. Jennifer Ross will be leading this webinar focused on exploring the multiple public health failures that characterized the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of linking these failures to three major trends in international political economy that have occurred since the end of the Cold War.

Sneezing in the Anthropocene: Humans and Coronaviruses in Deep Perspective

Featuring Dr. Kyle Harper and Dr. Gary Raskob
Date Recorded: December 14, 2020

The webinar series “Humanity and Health” serves as a focus for research and reflection about the social, economic, psychological, educational, and public health crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This talk by Dr. Kyle Harper explores why the humanities can gain from deep engagement with the natural sciences… and vice versa, why our understanding of disease biology needs engagement with the humanities.

Preventing the Next Pandemic: Vaccine Diplomacy in a Time of Anti-Science

Featuring Dr. Maria Elena BottazziDr. Peter Hotez, and Dr. David Wrobel 
Date Recorded: November 30, 2020

The webinar series “Humanity and Health” serves as a focus for research and reflection about the social, economic, psychological, educational, and public health crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This webinar offers a discussion of the impact of modern 21st-century forces – war, political collapse, climate change, urbanization, and anti-science – that are slowing, halting, or even reversing public health gains, and leading to a return of neglected and vaccine-preventable diseases. In conversation with Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi, Dr. Peter Hotez evaluates the impact of vaccines on combating the diseases arising due to these forces, and summarizes the development of new COVID-19 vaccines for global health.