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Advancing the Human Condition Symposium
An Initiative of  Beyond Boundaries and The Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition Strategic Growth Area

November 28-30, 2017
Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

The Advancing the Human Condition symposium fosters intellectual discourse around emerging questions of the human condition from multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. The symposium adopts a dialogue format that features key discussants and respondents in conversation with other researchers, practitioners, and scholar activists.    

The symposium objectives are

  • To identify emerging questions around issues related to the human condition
  • To further the role of research and scholarship across disciplines in advancing equity and eliminating social disparities.
  • To convene academics, scholar activists, and scholar practitioners doing cross-disciplinary, innovative work around these issues.

Note that each day of the program has its own registration. Registration links appear at the top of the schedule for each day.

Schedule of sessions:

November 28th

November 29th

November 30th

Registration Link - Click Here

 

Tuesday, November 28th

Opening Lunch and Keynote:

“The University and Our Human Future: Advancing Equity and the Human Condition” - Sylvester Johnson, Assistant Provost for the Humanities
12:00 pm Location: Latham AB

Introductory remarks begin at 12:45 p.m.

Open Space Discussion

1:45 - 3:00 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Break

3:00 - 3:30 p.m.

Breakout sessions (Below):

3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

Emerging theories for understanding the human condition
Location: Duck Pond Room

Moderator:

Marcy H. Schnitzer, Assistant Provost for Diversity and Strategic Planning;

Discussant:

Melinda Miller, Assistant Professor of Economic    

Respondents:

Mary Ryan, Doctoral Candidate, ASPECT

Claudio D’Amato, Instructor of Philosophy,

Olivia Lowery, Sociology major, Hollins University

Description: There is a growing awareness that understanding the human condition today involves a nuanced exploration of the past—health, income, wealth, and social status all have components that are transmitted across generations.  Some effects are almost mechanical:  A person cannot inherit a trust fund if her or his relatives are poor.  Others are more subtle, but can have devastating impacts.  There is growing evidence that in utero exposure to stress hormones can negatively impact the health of person.  Racist belief structures can be inculcated in one generation by the previous.  This session focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which the past can influence the human condition today and what this should mean for policy.  Should governments remedy past disadvantages?  How?  Should they focus on improving conditions for future generations?  Which programs could do this?  How might they be implemented    

Theories of the human connditon: Future visions of what it means to be human 
Location: Drillfield Room

Moderator:

Daniel Breslau, Associate Professor of Science, Technology and Society

Discussant:

Rebecca Hester, Assistant Professor of Science, Technology and Society

Respondents:

Ashley Shew Heflin, Assistant Professor Science Technology and Society

Philip Olson, Assistant Professor of Science Technology and Society

Description: This panel draws from scholarship in Science and Technology, particularly regarding disability studies, transhumanism, death studies, cybernetic studies, and other related fields, to examine future visions of what it means to be human. Attendant to the ways that new categories of humanness, new notions of life, and new ideas of death, will be created at the human-computer interface, through technological advances and, as a result of scientific discoveries, the panelists present ethical, social, political, and educational issues related to future visions of what it means to be human. Issues related to inequity and discrimination are illuminated.    

Methodologies of the human condition: Story Making as Cultural Work: Exploring Ontological Politics and Social Change in Communities of Struggle
Location: Latham D

Moderator:

Kim Niewolny, Associate Professor of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education

Discussant:

Max Stephenson, Jr., Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance

Respondents:

Thomas Archibald, Assistant Professor of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education

Bob Leonard, Professor of Theatre and Cinema

Rachel Weaver, Assistant Professor of Creative Technologies, SOVA

 

 

Learning experiences for empowerment, resilience, and engagement
Location: Cascades

Moderator:

David Brinberg, Professor of Marketing

Discussant:

Catherine Cotrupi, Assistant Director for Student Engagement

Respondents:

Mae Hey, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Andres Guerra Miguel, PhD Candidate, Civil Engineering

 

 

Evening Reception

5:00 - 6:30 p.m
Location: Latham C

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Wednesday, November 29th

Robots and autonomous systems in society, coordinated by the College of Engineering
8:30 a.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Location: Solitude

Moderator:

John Greene, Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, Director of National Security and Program Development

Panelists:

David Schmale, Professor in Plant Pathology and Physics Science

Craig Woolsey, Professor of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering

Keven Kochersberger, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

Emerging Research on the Human Condition: Graduate Student Poster Exhibit -, coordinated by the Graduate School
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Unspeakable: A Panel on what is unspoken in research, teaching, and outreach.
Marcia Davitt, Facilitator
11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic and Its Consequences Through Translational Research and Community-Based Strategies, coordinated by Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and Radford University
9:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Smithfield

Facilitator and Moderator:

Donna Boyd, Eminent Professor of Anthropological Sciences, Radford University; Co-Director, Radford University Forensic Science Institute; Professor of Biomedical Science Education, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Consultant, Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Roanoke, Virginia

Speakers & Discussants:

Amy Tharp, Assistant Chief Medical Examiner and Lead Pathologist, Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (Western District); Assistant Professor of Biomedical Science Education, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Donna Boyd, Eminent Professor of Anthropological Sciences, Radford University; Co-Director, Radford University Forensic Science Institute; Professor of Biomedical Science Education, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Consultant, Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Roanoke, Virginia

Warren Bickel, Virginia Tech Carilion Professor of Behavioral Health Research; Director, Addiction Recovery Research Center, Co-Director, Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute; Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Health Sciences, Virginia Tech; Professor of Psychiatry, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Robert Trestman, Professor and Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine; Senior Vice-President and Chair of Psychiatry, Carilion Clinic

Susan Giampalmo, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine 2nd year medical student

David Sallee, Associate Professor, Health and Human Performance, Radford University


Description: 
This session focuses on current biomedical research and community-based strategies that address the opioid epidemic and its consequences. The depth and breadth of the opioid crisis is first considered from the perspective of the Virginia Medical Examiner’s office, illustrating that the consequences of the opioid epidemic research far beyond the overdosed decedent. Research related to opioid addiction treatment and prevention is then discussed; this includes transformative research on health behaviors (including youth risk assessment), skills-based psychotherapy adapted for use with outpatient based opiate treatment programs, and assessments of provider knowledge of appropriate opioid disposal. This research has the power to mitigate many of the issues surrounding the opioid epidemic and advance the human condition in a most meaningful way.

Loyal to the Soil: Cultivating Movement from the Ground Up
Navina Khanna, Director of HEAL Food Alliance , coordinated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
10:30 - 1:30 p.m.
Location: 108 HABB1 (Human and Agricultural Biosciences Building 1 - 1230 Washington St. SW) 

Student Roundtable , coordinated by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
10:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Location: 108 HABB1
University Seminar followed by reception in the HABB atrium
12:00 - 1:30 p.m.

Interrogating what is meant by “Advancing the Human Condition”, , coordinated by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Adaptive Brain and Behavior Destination Area, and the Policy Strategic Growth Area
10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Location: Solitude

Moderator:

Anisa Zvonkovic, Professor in Human Development and Family Science

Panelists:

Gena Chandler-Smith, Associate Professor of English

Pamela B. Teaster, Director, Center for Gerontology and Professor in Human Development

Christian Matheis, School of Public and International Affairs / Graduate School

Ashley Shew Heflin, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society


Description: 
This session problematizes the phrase “advancing the human condition.” While the meaning and the intent of the phrase may seem self-evident, similar phrases have been used to justify eugenics, genocide, cultural revolution, colonialism, and other activities. Who gets to decide what advancing the human condition is? Whose conditions are to be improved, by what metric, and at what costs? How can we work to advance the human condition ethically? How does a goal of advancing the human condition pose unique benefits and consequences for historically underrepresented and under-served groups? Which kinds of power dynamics need close attention?  

Embracing One Health to Advance the Human Condition, coordinated by the College of Veterinary Medicine
1:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Smithfield

Session Facilitator: Kathy Hosig, Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences

  • Rural and Underserved Populations in the United States, 1:15-2:15 p.m.
  • - Julia Gohlke, Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences
  • - Sophie Godet Wenzel, Assistant Director of the Center for Public Health Practice and Research
  • - Kathy Hosig, Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences
  • Human-Animal Interaction, 2:15-3:15 p.m.
  • - Virginia Buechner-Maxwell, Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
  • - Virginia Kiefer Corrigan, Assistant Professor of Small Animal Clinical Sciences
  • - Megan Shepherd, Clinical Assistant Professor of Large Animal Clinical Sciences
  • - Lauren Dodd, Resident in Biomedical Veterinary Sciences
  • Global Underserved Populations, 3:15-4 p.m.
  • - Cassidy Rist, Assistant Professor of Practice, Population Health Sciences
  • - Kathy Hosig, Associate Professor of Population Health Sciences
  • Student Projects, 4-4:45 p.m.
  • - Michael Bittner, Public Health student
  • - Jojo Tucker, Public Health student

Description: This session includes four focused panel presentations addressing rural and underserved populations in the United States, human-animal interaction, and global underserved populations. The panels are designed to foster audience interest and engagement in current and future projects. Student projects from the Masters in Public Health program are also featured during the session.    

Mobilities, Geographies, and Imaginaries: Human Dimensions of the Built Environment,  coordinated by the College of Architecture and Urban Studies
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Moderator:

CL Bohannon, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture

Discussant:

Sharone Tomer, Assistant Professor of Architecture

Respondents:

Michael Borowski, Assistant Professor of Photography

Vanessa Guerra, PhD candidate in Environmental Design and Planning


Description: 
This panel discusses the intersections of how the built environment gets imagined and inhabited as a site of structures of power and terrain for negotiating inclusion and resistance to inequalities. In particular we explore these realities through the lenses of social and spatial justice and the production and representation of space.
    

Ethics and Engineering, coordinated by the College of Engineering
1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Moderator:

Pablo Tarazaga, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering 

Discussant:

Sara Mattingly-Jordan, Assistant Professor in CPAP    

World Café: Food Security and Systems
2:00 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Cascades

Facilitator:

Eric Bendfeldt, Extension Specialist, Community Viability

 

Description: This session uses a modified World Café Method to facilitate dialogue around the broad theme of food security and systems. Discussion will focus on discovering what already exists in food systems research and work, imagining a preferred future where people and communities are food secure, and designing and organizing systems for how the preferred future will happen. The session closes with appreciative reflections.

Interconnected Ecologies: Socio-Environmental Pressures and Global Systems of Production coordinated by the Global Systems Science Destination Area and the College of Natural Resources and Environment
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Location: Solitude

Discussant:

Jennifer Lawrence, Postdoctoral Research Associate for the Global Forum on Urban and Regional Resilience

Respondents:

Andy Scerri, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Marcia Davitt, Postdoctoral Associate in Learning Systems Innovations

Daniel Hindman, Associate Professor of Sustainable Biomaterials    

Description:  We are witnessing an extraordinary struggle for social, economic, and environmental justice. Such a momentous interval warrants renewed attention to the ways that inequitably-distributed environmental benefits and burdens impact all of society.  This calls for outside-the-box thinking in search of creative ways to address glaring disparities.  The contemporary relationship between society and the environment reflects longstanding structural inequalities.  As climate change exacerbates unequal access to resources, the concerns of environmental scholars—fairness, truth, equity, and concern for future generations—permeate public discourse and are forming part of a larger conversation. Contemporary environmental pressures are proliferating in a range of material contexts including the quest for energy security, and the struggle for just infrastructures, and all of these circulate through extractive governing rationalities. Please join us in a conversation as we address these intersections and draw links to larger global phenomena such as environmentally forced migration and displacement, loss of biodiversity, and failures of environmental regulatory regimes.     

How are Technologies Advancing the Human Condition—or Not? coordinated by the College of Engineering
3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Discussant:

Deborah Tatar, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Ali Butt, Professor of Computer Science    

Sylvester Johnson, Professor of Religion and Culture    

 

Our Collaboration That Advanced the Human Condition:  Flint Residents and Flintwaterstudy.org, coordinated by the College of Science
5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Speakers:

Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Lee-Anne Walters, Community Activist, Flint, MI

Reception  6:30 - 7: 00 p.m.

To Change Everything it Takes Everyone: Building a Multi-Racial, Multi-Sector Movement for Transformation

Navina Khanna, Director of HEAL Food Alliance
7:00 - 8:00 p.m
Location: Alexander Black House C

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Thursday, November 30th

 

Disability on Campus coordinated by the Adaptive Brain and Behavior Destination Area
9:30 - 11:00 a.m.
Location: Cascades

Guest Speaker:

Dr. Marisa Fisher, Assistant Professor of Special Education, Michigan State University, board-certified behavior analyst-doctoral, and co-director of Spartan Project SEARCH

Respondents:

Carolyn Shivers, Assistant Professor of Human Development

Martina Svyantek, Doctoral student, Interdisciplinary Independent

Elizabeth Spingola, Instructional Technology Support in the College of Engineering and President for the Disability Alliance and Caucus

 

Description: This session is a panel discussion on the experience of disability in higher education. What is [dis]ability? What does and does not "count" as disability in the classroom and on campus? What programs and supports does Virginia Tech have in place? How frequently are these supports actually implemented? What are some of the gaps in supports? Panelists discuss stereotypes of disability, experiences of disability and technology on campus, and the barriers to participation in higher education for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Social equity and inclusion in education policy: Trends, research and communicating research findings to policymakers, coordinated by the Policy Strategic Growth Area
10:00 - 11:30 a.m.
Location: Latham AB

Chair:

Isabel Bradburn, Research Director in Human Development, ISCE, and the Policy SGA

Discussant:

Benjamin Katz, Assistant Professor of Human Development

Panel:

Isabel Bradburn, Research Director in Human Development, ISCE, and the Policy SGA

Tod Massa, Director of Policy Analytics, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia

Karin Kitchens, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Claire Kathleen Robbins, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Gabriel Ramón Serna, Assistant Professor of Higher Education

Dave Dickinson, Administrator of Social Studies, Montgomery County (VA) Public Schools

Gunin Kiran and Penny Franklin, MCPS School Board

Description: In the United States, education is considered the primary mechanism by which families can improve their socioeconomic status and well-being.  Equal student access to high-quality education – equity and inclusion - are thus central education policy concerns.  The panel will present overviews of selected types of research, as well as local school system actions, currently being undertaken to address equity and inclusion in the K-12 and higher education systems.   How research is framed and ways that results are presented and interpreted can also affect policy, and this theme will be highlighted and discussed throughout the session.  The panel includes researchers from several fields and local school system policymakers.  A panel-led discussion, followed by general audience discussion, will proceed from brief presentations.  The aim is to share some current research in the field, while mainly discussing (and debating) the complex interplay between academic research traditions and policymakers needs in the fields of equity and inclusion within education.  The inclusion of both researchers and active education policymakers on the panel will facilitate a lively, productive exchange.

Understanding equity in the human condition through data analytics and decisions sciences, coordinated by the Data and Decisions Destination Area
11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: Solitude

Moderator:

Tom Ewing, Professor of History

Presenters:

Christine Tysor, Program Manager at the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science

Tom Ewing, Professor of History

Tina Savla, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science

Hongxiao Zhu, Assistant Professor of Statistics

Students with the Computational Modeling and Data Analytics Capstone Project Team    

 

 

Description: This session examines how the skills, ethics, and practices of data analytics informs understanding of equity and disparity in the human condition. Research by undergraduate student teams, graduate research assistants, and faculty scholars will examine health analytics, race in medical history, and regional disparities in southwest Virginia. Audience members are invited to share insights and examples from their own research and teaching fields related to health, disparity, and data in the human condition

Emerging Questions on the Human Condition: Lunch and Conversation
12:30 – 2:00 p.m.
Location: Latham AB

Supporting Adaptive Brain and Behavior: The Abecedarian Approach to Social Disparities: coordinated by the Adaptive Brain and Behavior Destination Area
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Location: Cascades

 

Speaker:

Craig T. Ramey, Distinguished Research Scholar, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, Human Development, and Pediatrics, Virginia Tech

Discussant:

Maria Stack Hankey, Research Assistant Professor, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

The Beloved Community Initiative: Advancing the Human Condition through Inclusive, Sustainable Economics

2:00 – 4:00 p.m
Location: Solitude

Moderator:

Anne Khademian, Director of School of Public and International Affairs    

 

Discussants:

Ralph Hall, Associate, Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning

Christian Matheis, Visiting Assistant Professor

Sue Ge, Associate Professor of Economics

David Bieri, Associate Professor of Urban Affairs

Max Stephenson, Jr. Professor of Public and International Affairs and Director, Institute for Policy and Governance    

 

Respondents:

Brian Britt, Chair of the Department of Religion and Culture

Sylvester Johnson, Professor of Religion and Culture

 

Description: Binary economics presents an alternative economic model to advance broad capital ownership. Is this a viable solution to foster a more fair, just and accessible economic system? What role can global and national and local institutions play in fostering a more inclusive economic system, and what roadblocks and impediments do these institutions pose? What innovations in foundational ideas and in practice can inform this discussion? What role does political agency play in the potential for change, and what role does government play and what role do communities and individual change agents play? The seminar would consist of opening remarks by each panel member focusing on insights and research on questions of access/inclusion to the economic system, followed by a facilitated roundtable discussion and engagement with the audience. 

Evening Events

Arts and the Human Condition
6:00 – 7:00 p.m
Location: The Cube Moss Arts Center

Moderator:

Jon Catherwood-Ginn, Partnerships and Engagement Manager

Panelists:

Awadagin Pratt, Pianist and Guest artist

Erika Meitner, Associate Professor of English

Susanna Rinehart, Associate Professor of Performance 

 

Description: This panel discussion raises the questions of how the arts are advancing equity and eliminating social disparity, and how artists can further the work of social justice through their respective artistic fields. *This session is held in The Cube in the Moss Arts Center.*

Performance: Awadagin Pratt, piano
7:30 p.m
Location: Street and Davis Performance Hall’s Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre Moss Arts Center
Purchase Tickets - Click Here

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