Symposium on Religion & the Health Sciences
Amidst a nationwide effort to improve diversity education in the health sciences, religion has received little attention. While some healthcare professionals find the topic daunting and mostly avoid it, others presume that it falls exclusively within the domain of hospital chaplains or patients’ religious communities. This two-day symposium will explore the positive ways in which religion can be present in healthcare contexts and will encourage attendees to think of interfaith knowledge as an important part of the practice of medicine in contemporary America.
The symposium will kick off with a public lecture with Roshi Joan Halifax on the intersections between religion and healthcare in death and dying. On Friday, December 2nd, the symposium will include three panels of experts in religion, health sciences, and humanities in dialogue on key issues.
The Symposium on Religion & the Health Sciences is hosted by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and the Department of Religion, with support from Interfaith America.
Public Lecture with Roshi Joan Halifax
Thursday, December 1st at 7:30 pm CT
Room 210 Levis Faculty Center (919 W. Illinois St., Urbana)
Attend in person or register to attend via Zoom
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a Buddhist teacher, Founder and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a social activist, author, and in her early years was an anthropologist at Columbia University (1964-68) and University of Miami School of Medicine (1970-72). As a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care, Roshi Joan Halifax speaks to Buddhists and non-followers alike on such universal topics as compassion, suffering, and what it is to be human. Roshi Joan Halifax will present live virtually, followed by a Q & A with the audience.
Religion & Health Sciences Symposium
Friday, December 2nd from 8:30 am to 3 pm CT
Room 300 Levis Faculty Center (919 W. Illinois St., Urbana)
Attend in person or register to attend via Zoom
The Symposium on Religion & Health Sciences will host panel sessions to examine past attitudes and practices, current realities, and future possibilities in three distinct but overlapping areas: religion, health, and healing; religion, death, and dying; and religion and the care of animals. Each panel brings together healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and scholars interested in the intersection of religion and health, but whose paths might not otherwise cross. Lunch is provided.
8:30-9:00am Welcome & Breakfast
9:00-10:30 am Session One: Health & Healing Panel
- Carolyn Roncolato, Interfaith America (Moderator)
- Rabbi Alan Cook, Sinai Temple of Champaign-Urbana
- Brett Hendrickson, Religious Studies, Lafayette College
- Imanni Sheppard, Carle College of Medicine
- Justine Murison, English
10:45 am-12:15 pm Session Two: Death & Dying Panel
- Stephanie Hilger, Comparative and World Literature (Moderator)
- Kaytlin Butler, Hospital Chaplain, The Mount Sinai Hospital NYC
- Miki Chase, Religion
- Krista Jones, UIC School of Nursing
- Imam Ousmane Sawadogo, Central Illinois Mosque & Islamic Center
12:15-1:15 pm Box Lunches Provided
1:15-2:45 pm Session Three: Religious Perspectives on Animal Care
- Jane Desmond, Anthropology (Moderator)
- Katharine Mershon, Philosophy and Religion, Western Carolina University
- Yvette Johnson-Walker, Veterinary Medicine
2:45-3 pm Closing Session
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D. is a Buddhist teacher, Founder and Head Teacher of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, a social activist, author, and in her early years was an anthropologist at Columbia University (1964-68) and University of Miami School of Medicine (1970-72). She is a pioneer in the field of end-of-life care. She is Director of the Project on Being with Dying, and Founder of the Upaya Prison Project that develops programs on meditation for prisoners. She is also founder of the Nomads Clinic in Nepal. Her books include Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Wisdom in the Presence of Death and Standing at the Edge: Finding Freedom Where Fear and Courage Meet. Roshi Joan Halifax speaks to Buddhists and non-followers alike on such universal topics as compassion, suffering, and what it is to be human. Influenced by early experiences as an anthropologist-world traveler, passionate end-of-life pioneer, and her work in social and ecological activism, she eloquently teaches the interwoven nature of engaged Buddhism and contemplative practice.
Kaytlin Butler works as staff chaplain at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. Kaytlin is a board certified, hospital chaplain with a demonstrated history of working in the hospital & health care industry. She earned her Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary. During 2020, Kaytlin was interviewed by the New Yorker and Time Magazine on the work of hospital chaplains during the coronavirus epidemic.
Brett Hendrickson is an associate professor of religious studies at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he studies and teaches on religion in the Americas, Mexican American religion, healing, and cross-cultural religious change. Brett’s work focuses on Latino/a popular religious devotions, the history of religion in the U.S. Southwest, religion and healing, and religion in public life. He is the author of Mexican American Religions: An Introduction (Routledge).
Katharine Mershon is an assistant professor of philosophy and religion at Western Carolina University. Previously she worked as a visiting assistant professor of religion at Whitman College. She holds a BA in English Literature from lake Forest College and her MA and PhD in Religion, Literature and Visual Culture form the University of Chicago Divinity School. Her work focuses on animals and religion, environmental and animal ethics, Jewish-American identity, and religion and popular culture. When not teaching or writing, she can be found hanging out with her dog, Joni Mitchell.