Conference on Health and Social Justice

As part of its bicentennial celebration, Saint Louis University will host a conference celebrating the work and research performed by University faculty, students and alumni in the areas of health, health care, public health and health law.

Health and Social Justice Conference logo


The conference will be held Thursday and Friday, Sept. 13-14, on the University campus.

In a Catholic, Jesuit University, social justice finds its origin in the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God. As part of its mission, SLU has supported the promotion of health, health care, public health and health law in service to the social ideals of justice afforded by the dignity of every human being.

The health of human beings is not only the health of individuals, but also needs the proper social and legal conditions that enable the health of communities. The conference on Health and Social Justice seeks to celebrate the University’s work and accomplishments in these areas.

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Plenary Sessions

Abraham Nussbaum, M.D.
Abraham Nussbaum
Abraham M. Nussbaum, M.D.

Abraham M. Nussbaum, M.D., is the chief education officer at Denver Health and an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where he also serves as an assistant dean in Graduate Medical Education. He earned a medical degree and completed psychiatry residency at the University of North Carolina, and a master’s degree in theology at Duke. He has authored three psychiatric textbooks and a memoir, The Finest Traditions of My Calling: One Physician’s Search for the Renewal of Medicine, which The New York Times called “dazzling and instructive.”

Nussbaum's talk will be based on his book chapter titled "Far From Disadvantage: Encountering Persons With Mental Illness."

Emilie M. Townes, Ph.D., D.Min. 
Emilie Townes
Emilie M. Townes, Ph.D., D.Min.

Emilie M. Townes, Ph.D., D.Min., an American Baptist clergywoman, is a native of Durham, North Carolina.  She holds a D.Min. from the University of Chicago Divinity School and a Ph.D. in religion in society and personality from Northwestern University. Townes is the dean and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming the first African American to serve as its dean in 2013. She is the former Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology at Yale University Divinity School, where she was the first African American and first woman to serve as associate dean for Academic Affairs.

In 2008, she was the first African-American woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion and recently served as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion from 2012 to 2016. She taught on the faculties of Union Theological Seminary in New York and Saint Paul School of Theology. She is the editor of two collection of essays, author of four books including her groundbreaking book, Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil. She is a co-editor of two books. Townes was elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. 

Townes will present her talk titled “Breaking the Fine Rain of Death.”

Daniel E. Dawes, J.D.
Daniel Dawes
Daniel E. Dawes, J.D.

Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., is a nationally recognized leader in the movement to advance health equity among under-resourced, vulnerable and marginalized communities. An attorney, scholar and health policy expert, Dawes brings a forward-thinking, inclusive and multidisciplinary approach to the law and public policy, and has been at the forefront of recent major federal health policy negotiations in the United States. Among his many achievements, he was an instrumental figure in shaping the Mental Health Parity Act, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act and the Affordable Care Act (“ObamaCare”).

Highly respected for his ability to achieve sound policy changes in a nonpartisan manner, Dawes lectures on health law, policy and management, serves as an advisor to international, national, regional, state and municipal policymakers, as well as think tanks, foundations, corporations, and nonprofit organizations. In addition, he is the co-founder of the Health Equity Leadership and Exchange Network (HELEN), which is a nationwide nonpartisan network of more than 1,500 governmental and non-governmental leaders and scholars focused on bolstering leadership and the exchange of research, ideas and information relative to the advancement of evidence-based health equity-related legislation, regulations, policies and programs.

He will present his talk titled "A Past, Present and Future Look at Health Equity in America: Changing the Consciousness and Addressing the Political Determinants of Health."

Film: "The Color of Medicine" and Panel

The film selection is The Color of Medicine:The Story of Homer G. Phillips Hospital.

Panelists are:

Bethany Johnson-Javois

As CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network (IHN), Bethany Johnson-Javois leads a $1.7 million non-profit that serves the region’s safety net health care providers and the local community to promote the mission of providing quality, affordable, accessible care to all with an emphasis on serving the underserved.

Her leadership in the health care sector has garnered notable recognition including being selected by Mental Health America of Eastern Missouri as a 2016 Silver Bell Award recipient for her outstanding community service, leadership, vision and values, and being selected as St. Louis Children’s Hospital 2015 Community Advocate of the Year.  She was also selected by the St. Louis Business Journal 2015 Class Diverse Business Leaders and received the Access to Equal Justice Award from the Washington University School of Law’s Clinical Education Program.  Under her leadership, the IHN was chosen as the St. Louis American’s Advocacy Organization of the Year in 2012. Johnson-Javois is a 2018 inductee of the Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health, Gamma Sigma Chapter at Washington University's Brown School. 

She possesses more than 15 years of experience working and volunteering in the non-profit sector for organizations that positively impact the quality of life for disadvantaged populations. She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Deaconess Foundation, as a board member for the Missouri Foundation for Health and as a member of the Executive Advisory Council for Missouri State University College of Business. As a licensed Evangelist Missionary in the Church of God in Christ, she is a noted motivational speaker and facilitator around spiritual development and leadership purpose.

Notably, Johnson-Javois was named the managing director for the Ferguson Commission. The Ferguson Commission, an independent, volunteer group appointed by former Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, was charged with addressing the underlying root causes that led to the unrest in the wake of Michael Brown’s death. After a comprehensive study that included extensive community engagement, the Commission published an unflinching report of its findings and 189 calls to action that chart a new path toward healing and positive change for the residents of the St. Louis region.

Harold Braswell, Ph.D.

Harold Braswell is an assistant professor of health care ethics at Saint Louis University. His research addresses contemporary problems in U.S. bioethics, with a particular focus on end-of-life decision making. His approach is interdisciplinary, integrating bioethics with the history of medicine, medical anthropology and disability studies.

He is currently finishing a book titled A Dying Family: U.S. Hospice Care and the Crisis of Freedom at the End of Life (under contract at Johns Hopkins University Press), and beginning another study of hospice and housing discrimination in St. Louis. His published articles have appeared in journals such as Social Science and Medicine, Disability Studies Quarterly, The American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience and Studies in Law, Politics and Society, and won awards from the Hastings Center, the Society for Disability Studies, and the University of Chicago Program in Medicine and Religion.

Joyce Fitzpatrick

Joyce Marie Fitzpatrick is an award-winning producer, writer and director who has enjoyed a career in television, film and promotion. She has produced, written and directed several feature-length documentaries, including “Sunshine, Noodles and Me” (aired on PBS) and “Discovering Mary,” along with several mini-docs, short films, web-series, comedy sketches, animation, music videos and promos.

Her experience includes credits for ABC, NBC, CW/UPN, BET, E! Entertainment, PBS and, the Discovery Channel. Fitzpatrick is currently working on several new projects and continually writes. She is always looking for fresh talent in all areas of film and TV.

Conference Schedule

Thursday, Sept. 13
  • 10:30 a.m.: Registration
  • 11 a.m.: Welcome and opening remarks
  • 11:30 a.m.: Lunch and program: The Color of Medicine
  • 1:45 to 2 p.m.: Coffee break
  • 2:15 p.m.: Concurrent Session 1
      • Workshops
          • Learning While Serving, Carol Beckel, Caroline Kelly, Emma London (Room 1)
          • DEAR Man, Roy Collins and Alauna Curry (Room 2)
      • Panels
          • Social Justice After Ebola, Rob Gatter and Terri Rebmann (Room 3)
          • How Christian Anthropology Can Enhance Ethics of Health Sciences Research, Clinical Care, and Public Health, Michael McCarthy, Mary Homan, Michael Rozier (Room 4)
      • Papers
          • Transhumanism and Discrimination, Carrie Schafer (2 p.m., Room 5)
          • The Technological Leviathan, Benjamin Parks (2:30 p.m., Room 5)
          • Parenting in a Technological World, Annie Friedrich (3 p.m., Room 5)
          • Against the Separation of Conjoined Twins, Luke Kallberg (2 p.m., Room 6)
          • Conjoined Twins: Is Separation About Quality or Quantity of Life?, Mackenzie Carroll (2:30 p.m., Room 6)
          • Defending the Value of Health, Dane Muckler (3:3 p.m., Room 6)
  • 3:45 p.m.: Break
  • 4 p.m.: Concurrent Session 2
      • Workshop
          • Music Therapy in Health Care, Crystal Weaver and Andrew Dwiggins (Room 1)
      • Panels
          • Health Law through Experiential Learning, Amy Sanders (Room 2)
          • Impact of Medical Students on Health Prevention in Community Outreach in the St. Louis Area, Aimee Nguyen, Anh Ta, Loretta Corvin, Michael Railey (Room 3)
          • Undertaking Research with Marginalized Populations, Katie Heiden-Rootes, Lee Smith Battle, Gretchen Arnold, Max Zubatsky (Room 4)
      • Papers
          • Injustice in Access to Health Care, Ruqaijah Yearby (3:45 p.m., Room 5)
          • On Medicine's Responsibility for the Common Good, Kyle Karches (4:15 p.m., Room 5)
          • The Sacrament of Pharmakon, Kimbell Kornu (3:45 p.m., Room 6)
          • Pope Francis' Bioethical Vision, Jason Eberl (4:15 p.m., Room 6)
          • The Internal Morality of the Practice of Prenatal Genetic Counseling, Christopher Ostertag (4:45 p.m., Room 6)
  • 5:30 p.m.: Reception
  • 6 p.m.: Dinner and plenary address
Friday, Sept. 14
  • 8:30 a.m.: Registration; continental breakfast is available
  • 9 a.m.: Concurrent Session 3
      • Workshop
          • An Equitable Approach, Joshua Arthur, Gene LaBarge, Ellen Barnidge, Katrina Brown (Room 1)
      • Panels
          • Conscientious Action in Health Care, Jason Eberl, Becket Gremmels, Christopher Ostertag, Abram Brummett (Room 2)
          • Health Criminology Panel, Jennifer Bello Kottenstette, Michael Vaughn, Lisa Jaegers, Christopher Collins (Room 3)
      • Papers
          • Representing the Disabled Body in Medicine and the Arts, Devan Stahl (9 a.m., Room 4)
          • Medicine A Modern Day Freak Show, Lohitha Guntupalli (9:30 a.m., Room 4)
          • Prosthetic Devices and Society's Acceptance of Amputees, Cassandra Halsted (10 a.m., Room 4)
          • Simon Says: On the Magical Impulse of Studies on the Efficacy of Intercessory Paper, Benjamin Parks (9 a.m., Room 5)
          • Toward a Thomistic Response to the Opioid Epidemic, Kyle Karches (9:30 a.m., Room 5)
          • Health Justice and the Moral Specialness of Health, D. Robert MacDougall (10 a.m., Room 5)
          • An Interactive Guided Web-based Alcohol Screening, Leigh Tenkku Lepper (9 a.m., Room 6)
          • An Educational Text Messaging Intervention to Improve Healthcare, Brendan McEnery (9:30 a.m., Room 6)
          • Improving Student Wellness and Creating a Culture of Health, Anthony Breitbach (10 a.m., Room 6)
  • 10:30 a.m.: Break
  • 10:45 a.m.: Concurrent Session 4
      • Workshop
          • Lean Six Sigma in Healthcare Laboratories, Katie Castree (Room 1)
      • Panels
          • Disability, Race, and Barriers to Health, Elizabeth Pendo, Harold Braswell, Kimberly Lackey (Room 2)
          • Health, Legal and Ethical Implications in Allocating Scarce Resources Post-Mass Casualty Events,  Joanne Langan, Terri Rebmann, Rachel Charney (Room 3)
      • Papers
          • Discovering the Goods of Aging, Kirsten Dempsey (10:45 a.m., Room 4)
          • The Limits of Humanae Vitae in Today's Culture, Cara Buskmiller (11:15 a.m., Room 4)
          • Bioethics and Bonhoeffer: Modern Selves and Moral Reasoning, Dallas Gingles (11:45 a.m., Room 4)
          • Caring for Transgender Patients and Clients, Whitney Linsenmeyer (10:45 a.m., Room 5)
          • Rejecting Systems of Violence: A Response to Child Sexual Abuse Employing Womanist Methodology, Jaime Konerman-Sease (11:15 a.m., Room 5)
          • Medicine and Nanorobots, Ana Santos Rutschman (10:45 a.m., Room 6)
          • Chemotherapy and Court-Ordered Mandates, Robert MacDougall (11:15 a.m., Room 6)
          • Shared Technology, Competing Logics, Liz Chiarello (11:45 a.m., Room 6)
  • 12:30: Lunch and speaker
  • 2:15 p.m.: Concurrent Session 5
      • Workshop
          • Value Based Healthcare: A New Flight Pattern, Robert Salter (Room 1)
      • Panels
          • Communication, Social Justice, and Human Flourishing, Timothy Huffman, Jennifer E. Ohs, April Trees, Daniela Pedraza (Room 2)
          • A Longitudinal Underserved Community Curriculum for Resident, Christine Jacobs, Kanika Turner, Michael Donovan (Room 3)
      • Papers
          • Neurobehavioral Outcomes of Preterm Infants, Katie Kersting (2 p.m., Room 4)
          • The Ethics of Interstitial and Cesarean Scar Ectopic Pregnancies, Cara Buskmiller (2:30 p.m., Room 4)
          • Cryopreserved Embryo Adoption: Not Now, Maybe Later, Cara Buskmiller (3 p.m., Room 4) 
          • Between the Cracks: Identifying and Caring for Young Carers Literature Review, Roy Collins (2 p.m., Room 5)
          • LAUNCH-ing into Healthcare: A Social Justice Framework for College-and-Career Readiness, Donovan Livingston (2:30 p.m., Room 5)
          • Developing a Sustainable Sickle Cell Program for Underdeveloped Countries – Tim Randolph (3 p.m., Room 5)
  • 3:45 p.m.: Break
  • 4 p.m.: Concurrent Session 6
      • Panels
          • Interprofessional Geriatric Assessment Clinic, Julia Henderson-Kalb, Marla Berg-Weger, Jill Fitzgerald, Andrea Vaughan (Room 1)
          • Homelessness, Justice, and Wellbeing, Tim Huffman, Debra Rybski, Chris Franco (Room 2)
      • Papers
          • A Patient-Centered, First- Person Approach to Surgical Outcomes, Jason Keune (4 p.m., Room 3)
          • Empathy in Medicine, Rachel Holtgreive (4:30 p.m., Room 3)
          • Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis and Savior Siblings, Sarah Coe (5 p.m., Room 3)
          • Social Determinants of Health: A Global Comparison, Ik-Whan Kwon (4 p.m., Room 4)
          • Social Innovation for Social Justice: How Public Health and Social Work Partner to Support Mental Health in St. Louis,  Stephen Edward McMillin (4:30 p.m., Room 4)
          • Maternity Homes: Social Support and Social Justice for Homeless Pregnant Women, Cara Buskmiller (Room 4)
  • 5:30 p.m.: Reception
  • 6 p.m.: Dinner and plenary address