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Geisel to Host National Physicians for Human Rights Student Conference

A collection of evening activities on Friday, November 4, 2016, including a student poster session highlighting research on human rights and a reception, will kick-off the annual Physicians for Human Rights Student Conference being held at the Geisel School of Medicine on November 5. The topic of this year’s conference is Violence against Difference.

Chelsey L. Kivland, PhD
Chelsey L. Kivland, PhD

Saturday’s opening address on structural violence by Chelsey Kivland, PhD, an assistant professor of anthropology at Dartmouth, opens the day of discussions and breakout sessions. Structural violence, as opposed to behavioral violence, refers to the subtle and often invisible ways in which social structures can harm or disadvantage people. The concepts set forth by Kivland will be interwoven throughout the day’s presentations and discussions.

Conference co-organizers, second-year Geisel medical students Emily Georges ’19 and Thomas Kuczmarski ’19, who are members of the Physicians for Human Rights national student advisory board conference committee, say they chose violence as the conference’s theme because of its reach beyond medicine. Influenced by worldwide events involving violence against marginalized and minority populations as well as human rights violations, the duo organized the conference around racial violence, gender violence, and violence against health care workers.

“We think it’s important to acknowledge the social factors that affect patient care so we reached out to people working in anthropology, women’s studies, and African American studies. We feel it’s important to give attendees of the conference a holistic perspective rather than just focusing on medicine as if it exists in isolation,” Georges says.

“Another thing we are really excited about this year is the use of narrative in tying together all aspects of the conference from foundational information to examples of tangible solutions for preventing future violent acts,” Kuczmarski says.

Along with Kivland, many of the conferences speaker are notables in the fields of health care and human rights: scholar-activist Joy James, who writes about racial-sexual violence in contemporary American culture; Treva Lindsey, a specialist in black feminist theory, women’s studies, and popular culture; John Lawrence, president of the board of Doctors Without Borders; and Samer Attar, has written extensively about his experience as a physician in Aleppo and attacks on health care workers.

“Emily and I are really excited about the conference, which is open to medical students, grad students, undergraduates, and the community,” Kuczmarski says. “By the conference’s end, participants will be armed with the knowledge, tools, and resources to be human rights activists and leaders in medicine.”

For further information about the conference and registration details, visit: http://phrstudents.wixsite.com/phrsab/conference-411.