UMass Amherst College of Nursing to Explore Social Justice Issues in Health

Susan Hagedorn

AMHERST, Mass. – The College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst will explore new frontiers in social justice issues in health care as part of a March 30 symposium titled “Health as a Human Right: A Call to Action.”

Leading a session on digital storytelling will be nurse, filmmaker, philanthropist, and social justice activist Susan Hagedorn, professor emerita at the University of Colorado College of Nursing. Hagedorn, a 1977 alumna of the UMass Amherst nursing program, established the Seedworks Professorship in Social Justice at the College of Nursing in 2013. Her films include “Island Nurse” (2013) and “Disruptive Innovator” (2012).

In preparing for the symposium, Hagedorn and a film crew from the Berkeley, Calif.-based Center for Digital Storytelling are filming the personal stories of UMass Amherst students and faculty, focusing on social justice issues and experiences. Many of these films, only several minutes in length, will be shown during the symposium and act as launch pads for discussion and breakout sessions in areas such as aging, diversity, violence, and sexual and reproductive health rights.

“Nurses are at often the front lines in seeing everything from post-traumatic stress disorder to elder self-neglect and are the most likely to advocate on behalf of an underserved population,” says UMass College of Nursing Dean Stephen Cavanagh. “This symposium will feature some very real, very personal stories that moved people to action.” 

Daniel Weinshenker, Midwest director of the Center for Digital Storytelling, who will help lead the workshop, said that he has seen it become “an absolutely life-changing workshop for many people.”

Peggy L. Chinn, professor emerita from University of Connecticut School of Nursing and editor of the journal Advances in Nursing Science, will present the keynote.  She has consulted worldwide on doctoral curriculum development, feminism and nursing, publishing, and a number of topics related to holistic healing modalities in nursing.

Also featured will be Beverly Malone, chief executive officer of the National League for Nursing. Named one of “Modern Healthcare’s” 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare, she is among America’s most vocal leaders in the national conversation about the nursing and nurse educator shortage, and the role of nursing in ensuring access to safe, quality, culturally competent care to diverse patient populations.

Other program participants include:

UMass Amherst College of Nursing professor Jean E. Swinney, chair of the American Public Health Association’s Public Health Nursing Section. A champion for social justice for more than 25 years, she continues working to decrease health disparities, increase workforce diversity, and provide insight regarding the impact of racism and inequality on health and the related challenges faced by people and communities of color.

UMass Amherst College of Education professor Ximena U. Zúñiga, whose interests include social justice education, student development in social justice and diversity education, multicultural group processes, inter-group dialogue and relations in college campuses, and action research.

Sarah L. Szanton of the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, whose specialties include gerontology, aging in place, and racial and socioeconomic health disparities.

Aline C. Gubrium, of the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, whose areas of specialization include sexual and reproductive health rights and justice, participatory digital, visual, and narrative research methodologies, and holistic and culture-centered approaches to health promotion.

The symposium takes place 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in the Campus Center Auditorium at UMass Amherst. The general registration fee is $50 or $15 for students. Breakfast and lunch are included. The event is co-sponsored by the UMass Amherst College of Education and the UMass Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences.


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