Student Report on “Health X Media: Sexual and Gender Minority’s Well-being & Social Media”

Reported By Dong Ding, class of 2026

On February 22nd, the Health Humanities Initiation hosted its inaugural seminar titled “Health X Media: Sexual and Gender Minority’s Well-being & Social Media.” The seminar was led by Jiahe Qian, a senior majoring in Global Health and Public Policy, with 16 other students participating. The focus of the discussion was on the health issues faced by sexual and gender minorities, exploring stereotypes and stigmas associated with these communities. Additionally, the seminar delved into how individuals express their sexual and gender identities on social media platforms and the impact this has on their health and well-being.

The seminar provided a platform for students to engage in meaningful discussions about the intersection of health, media, and minority issues. It aimed to shed light on the unique challenges faced by sexual and gender minorities and the role social media plays in shaping public perceptions and personal experiences. By examining these topics, the seminar sought to foster a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding health and identity in the digital age.

Overall, the seminar was a successful start to the Health Humanities Initiative’s series of seminars, setting the stage for further exploration of important health-related topics in future sessions. If you are interested in leading the discussion on a health and humanities topic, feel free to contact Dong Ding, the student coordinator of Health Humanities Initiatives at dd275@duke.edu.

Student Report on “Health X Series”

By Dong Ding

Recently, DKU Health Humanities Lab (HHL) initiated the new series “Health X”, aiming to bridge the gap between health and humanities and explore the interdisciplinary opportunities of the two subjects. On Feb 7th, 2024, HHL held its inaugural event, a lecture on the topic of “Health X Media”. Our guest speaker, Prof. Fan Liang, the Assistant Professor of Media at DKU, gave an informative and insightful presentation about the role of digital media in health communication.

With forty students and faculty attending, we spent an exceptionally valuable and intellectually stimulating hour. The presentation delved into how social media platforms can influence public health, the psychological mechanisms behind persuasion, the spread and correction of health-related misinformation, and the ethical considerations of AI in health communication. It highlighted the importance of understanding these dynamics to effectively communicate health information and combat misinformation in the digital age. A significant behavioral science concept, the elaboration likelihood model, was mentioned, which was applied to help us better understand health communication and misinformation.

In the Q&A session, the students and the professor engaged in a very interesting discussion about whether behavioral change truly requires a change in mindset as a premise, and whether a change in mindset can necessarily lead to a change in behavior. The discussion delved into the complexities of human psychology and the factors that influence our actions, highlighting the intricate relationship between thought and behavior.

We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the participants for their active engagement in this event. The discussions and insights shared have significantly contributed to the understanding of the complex interplay between health and media. We look forward to continuing this meaningful dialogue and furthering our collective knowledge in the upcoming events of the “Health X” series.

Health Humanities Initiative September Report

The Health Humanities Initiative has started a weekly meeting series since this Fall, to get faculty and students from different backgrounds together to discuss how health issues interact with the human experience.

Sept 6, 2023: Ice-break and theme exploration

In the first meeting, students each gave a brief introduction about their major background and potential topics they would like to explore in HHL. It was quite exciting that we had students from different fields: global health, anthropology, history, religion & philosophy, and biology. Students proposed several topics they were interested in, including how death is perceived in history and religions, the development of hospice in China, bereavement education, as well as the anthropological perspective of health’s definition. Considering students’ overlapped interests in death, we decided to mainly focus on death-related topics. We started our activity with students’ facilitation each week with no limitation on the forms and discussion between students and professors in order to explore different topics for further investigation.

Sept 13, 2023: Documentary Screening: My Last Summer

In this session, facilitated by Dong Ding, a sophomore student from Global Health major, we watched the first episode of My Last Summer, a BBC documentary that recorded the fears and hopes of five individuals diagnosed with terminal illnesses, with less than a year to live. They are brought together to spend four unforgettable weekends and share their thoughts and emotions about pain, religious beliefs, and the afterlife.

In the discussion, we talked about how different people’s attitudes are when facing death. One student mentioned this documentary provided us with an opportunity to gain a dynamic, holistic view of the dying ones as normal people with hobbies, passions, and emotions instead of being generalized as a group that can only perceive pain and pity. We also discussed the difference between dying and death with dying being a lengthy process while death happens instantaneously. In addition, we mentioned the essentialness of support from the secondary group, namely “similar others” when an individual is approaching death. As their closest family members and friends may not fully understand their feelings, having someone in similar situations to share their thoughts with can be very helpful in improving their well-being, which can be a part of hospice care.

Sept 20, 2023: Documentary & Lecture Screening: Death in Tibetan Buddhism and Philosophy

In the first section of our third meeting, facilitated by Jiachen Wu, a sophomore student in religion & philosophy, we watched a documentary about the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a lecture about death in philosophy. The documentary features the process of a Buddhist master trying to guide the soul of a dead man to achieve nirvana. It displays how death is optimistically perceived as a chance to escape from the circle of reincarnation and become a Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. We discussed how death as an inevitable and positive component in Buddhism can help people learn about and accept the death of themselves and their loved ones. We also talked about the definition of compassion in Buddhism. Additionally, we compared the rituals for dead people, such as cremation, in diverse religious beliefs.

In the second section, we watched a lecture about philosophical questions about body and soul taught by Prof. Shelly Kagan from Yale University. Descartes’s argument is that if one can imagine the soul as an independent figure, then the soul can be independent of one’s body. However, in the video, Prof. Kagan argues that based on the phenomenological differences and dependence, which is the imagination of the dependent soul out of the body, should not be a valid and complete support for the duality of body and soul. He applied the example of morning stars and evening stars to further demonstrate this issue. The morning star and the evening star could appear independently, and actually only independently, while they are the same single planet. Therefore, Prof. Kagan proclaims that he himself doesn’t believe in the existence of the soul, no mention the rebirth based on that. In our discussion, we talked about the relevance between Descartes’s theory and Tibetan Buddhism. We also mentioned Venus and Aphrodite, the Roman and Greek forms of the same deity, an example of one soul in two bodies as a possible counterpoint of Descartes’s theory.

Sept 27, 2023: Presentation and discussion: Health Ethical Principles and Hospice

Ethan Tung, a sophomore student in Global Health/Public Policy, facilitated the discussion session and shed light on several ethical principles specifically applied in the medical field and the principles in a broader context. For medical ethics, the four pillars are autonomy (self-decision), beneficence (trying to improve the overall well-being and achieve the best outcome), non-maleficence (doing no harm and ensuring the treatment/decisions align with the patient’s interest), and justice (fair and equitable distribution). A shared characteristic of them is patient-centered. In broader ethics, the three major principles are utilitarianism, deontology, and absolutism. Utilitarianism is a type of consequentialism that focuses solely on the outcome of the decision. Deontology, the study of duty, applies laws to define what is right and wrong, does and don’ts. Absolutism emphasizes things that are unconditionally wrong regardless of the context and the consequence of the action, which is similar to non-maleficence in medical ethics. Ethan used stealing food to feed one’s hungry family members as an example. From the utilitarianists’ perspective, it is morally right because it can help the food feed more people and achieve better outcomes. However, to deontologists and absolutists, it is wrong because stealing causes harm to other people and is an illegal action. In our discussion, we compared the principles in two fields. We also looked into the international codes ethics of hospice care and found the interaction between the two theories. Codes ethics, as a result of the materialization of the ethical principles, is a linkage between application and the fundamental theories.

HRC launches Health Humanities initiative

The Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce the launch of a Health Humanities Initiative at DKU, led by Professors Daniel Weissglass and Meifang Chen.

The Health Humanities initiative provides an interdisciplinary research and practice space for students and faculty with a broad range of skills and interests to investigate how the human experience contributes to aspects of individual and population health. It builds on the earlier Health Humanities Lab which launched a number of successful projects in the first three years of the undergraduate program at DKU, and last year’s resilience initiative involving Professors Lijing Yan and Sze Chai Kwok, together with the present initiative co-directors.

The initiative hosts a regular weekly meeting on Wednesdays from 4-5pm in WDR2201.

If you are interested in joining the lab or have any great ideas, please contact the Lab co-Directors Prof. Meifang Chen (email: meifang.chen@duke.edu) or Prof. Daniel Weissglass (email: daniel.weissglass@duke.edu)

August 2 MediHealth Podcast Live | Navigating the New Normal

COVID has impacted all of us beyond our expectations. Given Nanjing’s new COVID outbreak and the new Delta variant, how do we navigate through these difficult times? What is the likelihood of collectively achieving good health and well being for all citizens of the world?

Join the MediHealth Podcast team from Health Humanities Lab for a Live Panel Discussion on Monday August 2.

Topic: Navigating the New Normal

Guest speaker: Dr. Asif from NTU, Dr. Alvona, Glory Agun (Class ‘23) and Yiping Tian (Class ‘24)

Hosted by Sue Meng Chan, Greenshoot Communications

When: Aug 2, Monday, 21:00-21:30 China time or 9:00-9:30 EST

Where: Zoom 8014899181

RSVP for calendar request: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1TGMj6qu85tmzoG

[Participants Needed] An Online Experiment: Can you accurately recognize pain from others’ facial expression?

Interested in participating in a fun and easy cognitive psychology experiment? Join us!

This survey aims to know whether racial differences can affect the recognition of pain evaluation through facial expressions. Healthy individuals who are age 18 above, first language is Chinese are all welcome! You will be receiving compensation after you finished!

Check the flyer for more information. Feel free to participate by scanning the QR code!

July 19 MediHealth Podcast LIVE | A Sweet Spot at Work

MediHealth Podcast is hosting its first live interview session this July-themed “A Sweet Spot at Work”. Many employer-employee relationships end in disillusionment, discontent, and disengagement.

Is there something amiss about our employer selection process, and how can we make better strategic career choices that deliver more meaning, fire our passion, and direct us to be the best versions of ourselves? Get more insight at MediHealth Podcast’s first live session!

We would be discussing making strategic career choices with Anthea Kiu, an Access and Policy Lead and Patient Partnership Centre of Excellence Lead at Roche. Interviewers Reika Shimomura and Sue Meng Chan would be hosting the virtual live session on the 19th of July at 9 PM CST (9 AM EST). There would be opportunities to ask live questions from you and discuss key issues with our hosts.

You can RSVP here by entering your NetID and receive a calendar request or scan the QR code to the survey link: https://duke.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_07CTQliraCRbo5U

BIO

Anthea Kiu was formerly Breast Cancer Foundation’s General Manager before pursuing her Master of Business Administration, having been privileged to receive a scholarship from the Queen Mary University of London. She has 15 years’ experience in strategic marketing and management, with strong Private-Public-People partnerships established for non-profit organisations and consumer brands.

Driven by the purpose to empower cancer patients in living full lives, Anthea joined Roche with the aim to accelerate their access to innovative and superior treatment options and advocate for a patient-centric healthcare system where patients’ voices define which outcomes matter the most to them in healthcare policies. Outside of work, she enjoys reading, hiking, travelling, pilates and cuddling with her dog.

HHL Luncheon & Project Sharing

Location: Water Pavilion

Zoom ID: 530.394.0458

Time: 11:45 am-12:45pm, April 1st, Thursday  China Time

The Health Humanities Lab luncheon is a status update on all of the current projects sponsored by the HHL. Each team will present their work and it will be recorded over Zoom so that other groups interested in the new call for proposals will have the opportunity to learn from the examples of successful project proposals.

HHL Exhibition: Public Square 2.0

Location: AB Lobby

Zoom ID: 865 588 9767

Time: 10am-8pm (with a special event at 11:30am) – April 1st – China Time

Public Square 2.0 is a video-based multi-screen installation about people’s interactions within public space, as a reflection of people’s relationships within a community in Beijing in the COVID-19 context. The videos screened within are documentations of human interactions in a community in Beijing during the COVID-19 outbreak from March to August in 2020. Each video highlights different parts of a communal square, documenting individuals and their daily activities within it at different times.

When it comes to the DKU community, for students, staff and faculty abroad, most of them are still unable to return to campus due to the pandemic. The installation is located in the AB lobby and with a MaxHub whiteboard that allows for real-time interactions through Zoom to connect the entire DKU community during the ongoing pandemic.

The pandemic has affected people’s lives all around the world. Even now, people’s outdoor activities are more or less restricted. And for some, the access to face-to-face interactions is still difficult. Within this context, this project wants to explore how we can increase interactions and strengthen bonds in the DKU community. What roles can communal space play in this process? How can we, as a community, support each other, and tell each other that we will face the challenges together?

For people online, you are greatly welcomed to join the exhibition virtually. Please feel free to interact with people on campus and annotate on the virtual whiteboard to share your feelings and thoughts.