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Think Bigger by Thinking Together: Global Challenges

Oct 14, 2015
The UW Honors Staff, Spring 2015

Greetings from the Honors Program staff! This fall has been wonderfully busy as we welcome new students to Interdisciplinary Honors, continue to engage our students in visionary thinking, and expand our partnerships across campus and beyond. We are putting tremendous energy behind our first major public event scheduled for November 3 and we wholeheartedly invite you to join us. We want to share the story behind this upcoming conversation with leading-edge faculty, students, and others in our community around a topic that recognizes the public mission of the University of Washington and Honors’ unique role as a seat of deep interdisciplinary reflection on campus. We hope to see you there!

“Sometimes the most we can wish for ourselves is that we live according to our own values. So I ask you, as you consider the work you will accomplish in this world, what keeps you up at night?”

In October 2014 Honors Program Director and professor of Geography, Vicky Lawson, faced a large group of students in HONORS 100, the first year seminar for new Interdisciplinary Honors students. In a program that engages students through rigorous interdisciplinary coursework, expansive, innovative thinking, and conscious global citizenship, the responses were expectedly deep, thoughtful and complex. These responses also started a chain reaction that continues to play out this year through dozens of Honors courses, as a reflective prompt for student portfolios, the catalyst for discussion groups, and beyond.

To kick off this year-long inquiry, we’re hosting a community conversation, Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers on Health and Poverty, which will showcase scholars from varied disciplines thinking together about this complicated issue. Three UW faculty, selected for their leadership in research and public impact—and coming from very different corners of campus—will dig into the interrelations between health and poverty with help from the Honors community. Steve Gloyd (Global Health), LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies), and Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies/English) all have their own polemics on how health and poverty intersect locally and around the world—viewpoints that we’ll debate, discuss and delve into on November 3.

One year after students first answered Lawson’s big question, these faculty experts visited the students in HONORS 100. They engaged a new class of students in the dialogue started last fall and urged them to explore their own passion and curiosity for equitable healthcare access, discussions around poverty and privilege, and the value we place (or fail to place) on human life.

Reem Sabha, now a sophomore, remembers Lawson’s visit last fall, describing herself as “awed” by the moment. “I was struck by the fact that someone was asking me these questions my first week of college,” Sabha reflected, “and I realized that it was finally acceptable to be asking these questions.” Sabha was inspired by her first experience in HONORS 100 to take an Honors course that ultimately led her to an independent research project, which in turn prompted a currently-pending Associated Students of the University of Washington commission to address how Middle Eastern students are treated at UW. She won the Undergraduate Research Library Award for the study last year, and is also a leader in the Honors community as an HONORS 100 Peer Educator.

“I think this Global Challenges theme, especially the event, is so useful for incoming freshman who are new to the idea of what ‘interdisciplinary’ even means. It shows them that these are the kind of questions Honors wants you to be asking,” Sahba continued. “This gets them noticing that UW is a place where we don’t just ask questions or identify problems. Here, we work together to actually solve them.”

Global Challenges—Interdisciplinary Answers on Health and Poverty

All are welcome, please RSVP here
November 3, 2015, 6:00-7:30 p.m.
Husky Student Union Building, South Ballroom

About the Speakers

Steve Gloyd, LaShawnDa Pittman, Chandan Reddy

Steve Gloyd is Associate Chair of UW Global Health and is an internationally renowned researcher on infectious disease epidemiology (STD, TB, EPI); health systems research; political economy of health and impact and equity in health care.

Read more about Steve Gloyd

LaShawnDa Pittman teaches in UW American Ethnic Studies as an urban poverty ethnographer. Dr. Pittman’s research focuses primarily on the coping experiences of socially marginalized women, including Black women living with HIV/AIDS and low-income, urban Black grandmothers caring for their grandchildren.

Read more about LaShawnDa Pittman

Chandan Reddy is a thought leader on migrant populations and especially marginalized groups defined by race, sexuality, or gender. He teaches in UW's Department of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies and in the English Department.

Read more about Chandan Reddy