Medical Humanities Lecture: "Translational Humanities for the Next Pandemic"
Kirsten Ostherr, English and Medical Humanities, Rice University
Part of the Medical Humanities Residency, made possible by a gift from Dr. Dan Shin ('91)
Three years into the global COVID-19 pandemic response, a consensus has emerged among public health experts that governments and societies around the world must prepare now for the next infectious disease outbreak, even as we continue to manage the latest variants of SARS-CoV-2. The new form of preparedness requires a recognition of the intersecting health and climate crises that are driving acceleration in the emergence of novel zoonotic diseases. Equally critical is a recognition of the need for integration of translational humanities methods into the existing scientific and technological response, to address the unequal distribution of these interventions across diverse sectors of society. In this talk, Professor Ostherr will discuss the gaps and harms to minoritized and marginalized communities that resulted from disciplinary silos in our critical response infrastructure. In addition, this talk will explain how the humanities and the health professions can look ahead to build collaborative preparedness for future crises. Drawing from her research on hundreds on translational humanities responses to the pandemic from dozens of countries around the world, Professor Ostherr will offer new methods for addressing human health grounded in cultural and historical context.