Friday, August 24, 2012

Meet Roger LeBrun—Professor with URI's College of the Environment and Life Sciences - Department of Plant Sciences and Entomology and One of the Coordinators of URI's Honors Colloquium!

The Class of 2016 is entering University of Rhode Island at an auspicious time. URI’s annual fall Honors Colloquium is celebrating its 50th anniversary, and I’m proud to be one of the coordinators of this year’s program, along with Jef Bratberg from Pharmacy and Mary Cloud and Shahla Yekta from Nursing. The semester-long lecture series, called “Health Care Change? Health, Politics and Money,” will examine the forces that influence the health care system in the United States and abroad, which results in wide disparities in access to health care.

The Colloquium will feature some of the world’s most prominent voices, including the president of Doctor’s Without Borders and the medical director of the international charity Partners in Health. The lecture series begins on Tuesday, Sept. 11, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Tracy Kidder, who will discuss your Common Reading book Mountains Beyond Mountains. As you know, MBM is about Paul Farmer, a physician who is single-mindedly bent on improving the health of some of the poorest people on the planet, especially those who suffer from tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. This important book will be used in the Colloquium coordinators’ Honors 201 course to show "how one person can make a difference in solving global public health problems through a clear-eyed understanding of the interaction of politics, wealth, social systems and disease." Professors Bratberg, Cloud, Yekta, and I designed the course using the World Health Organization’s model, which demonstrates the main determinants of health that contribute to health inequities amongst individuals, societies and nations.

I hope Mountains Beyond Mountains will inspire you to learn, travel, and give back what you've learned to those who have so little. You are undertaking a new and exciting adventure at URI, which comes with a responsibility to generously share the wealth you enjoy. Mountains Beyond Mountains will show you how one extraordinary person did just that.

For a complete list of the Honors Colloquium’s speakers, go to
If you are interested in learning more about URI’s Honors Program, go to

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Haiti Today

Check out the article, "Years After Haiti Quake, Safe Housing Is a Dream for Many," by Deborah Sontag in the August 16, 2012 New York Times. It lays out how the reconstruction efforts after last year's earthquake have fallen far short of human need. What do you think?

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Since the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010, a scrappy 12-year-old boy named Givenson Fanfan has been sleeping on the rock-hard floor of a tent pitched in a fetid camp dominated by a 50-foot tower of trash. He dreams of a bed.

In a hillside community, Terilien Brice, a 63-year-old grievously injured in the earthquake, lives like a shut-in inside his condemned house, which was marked with a red tag that is supposed to mean “no entry,” not no exit. He feels helpless.

Dieu Juste Saint Eloi, 68, in contrast, secured a one-room shelter with plastic sheeting for walls, but his clan of 12 squeezes into it. And it perches on a ledge above the ruins of his spacious home, into which his granddaughter keeps tumbling and breaking bones.

Unexpectedly, though, his 29-year-old son, William Saint Eloi, hit the housing jackpot. Isolated all his life because he is deaf, he now has a new home and community because two can-do Christian charities have taken deaf disaster victims under wing.

Two and a half years after the earthquake, despite billions of dollars in reconstruction aid, the most obvious, pressing need — safe, stable housing for all displaced people — remains unmet.

Go to: to read the entire article and view the connected videos!

Friday, August 3, 2012

How's the Reading Going?

Can you believe that we are one month away from the beginning of the semester? The above image is of URI's Director of Gender and Women's Studies Jody Lisberger relaxing on Block Island. As you can see, she has her copy of Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains. Many faculty, including Dr. Lisberger, will be crafting assignments using Kidder's narrative--if you haven't picked up the book, now might be a good time to do so. Gender and Women's Studies, better known by its acronym GWS, has a vision of a world free from sexism, and that means other issues--including national chauvinism; class, ethnic, racial, and heterosexual bias; economic exploitation; religious persecution; ageism; and ableism--need to be examined alongside that concern. How do the concerns of GWS fit with Farmer's vision of fair and equitable medical treatment for everyone? How does your first assignment--to think critically about how individuals in wealthier nations might or might not be responsible for people in poor countries--coincide with the mission of GWS? As Christa, an incoming Chemical Engineering student, pointed out: even if individuals do not "have the money to personally donate funds to countries such as Haiti, all of us, who are more fortunate, can certainly donate some of our time, energies, and knowledge to those who can benefit from our assistance." So, what do you think?

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