Today@Sam Article

Conference To Bring International Scholars To Campus

Feb. 24, 2015
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

The Sam Houston State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences will welcome international scholars from across the disciplines to present their research March 4-5 for the Seventh Medicine, Humanities, and Social Sciences Conference.

CHSS logoThe conference is an interdisciplinary meeting of social and behavioral scientists, medical humanities scholars, health care professionals, and others working at the intersections of medicine, humanities, and the social sciences.

This year’s activities will have a more “universal” appeal and will include historians and literary critics sharing their works as related to those topics, according to Paul Child, SHSU professor of English and conference program chair.

“This year's conference will feature paper sessions on medical history, medicine and the arts, public health initiatives and services, the sociology of medicine, and images of medicine in Hispanic literature and film,” Child said. “Participants are coming from across the U.S. and from abroad—including Nigeria and Ireland. We also have a contingent of SHSU professors who will present papers.

“With the recent death of (SHSU professor of history) Terry Bilhartz, who was for many years one of the prime movers of the conference, we are dedicating this year's event to his memory,” Child said.

The conference will open on March 4 with a dinner in Austin Hall and a formal welcome by CHSS Dean Abbey Zink, followed by a few remarks in memory of Terry Bilhartz by James Olson, SHSU Distinguished Professor of History.

The dinner will be followed by a plenary address in the Evans Auditorium by Dr. Badreddin Samman, an orthopedic surgeon from Syria.

Samman’s talk, “How Middle Eastern Cultural Traits Informed My Medical Practice,” will discuss the importance of a doctor’s knowing his patients’ cultures, customs, and attitudes in diagnosing their disorders and in supporting their recoveries.

On Thursday (March 5), paper sessions will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.

The CHSS Medicine, Humanities and Social Sciences Conference reflects the interdisciplinary nature of both academic studies and professions associated with those fields, according to Child.

“Too easily we make distinctions between various academic and professional disciplines like the arts and sciences and the so-called ‘hard’ sciences and social sciences, but if we examine the boundaries between these fields, we find that they are elastic and permeable,” Child said. “For example, in diagnosing a patient’s illness, a doctor might not simply rely upon her scientific training and clinical processes but also apply the methods of a literary critic by listening to the kind of language that the patient uses in reporting his symptoms and looking for an intelligible plot in the patient’s narrative. An epidemiologist might consider political and economic issues in trying to understand and control the outbreak of a global pandemic.

“The conference is important because it shows the possibilities for breaking down—or at least re-examining—whatever formal boundaries there are between various disciplines and professions,” he said. “We’re especially happy because, as part of this initiative, the relatively new College of Health Sciences is sending a number of students and faculty to the conference.

“Although other colleges like Criminal Justice and Education certainly take interdisciplinary approaches in their various subjects, fields like English, history, and sociology have always been interdisciplinary by nature and definition,” Child said. “The College of Humanities and Social Sciences is the natural home for this sort of conference.”

The plenary address and paper sessions are open to the public for free; however, the welcome dinner on March 4 and a luncheon the following day are open only to registrants. Those interested in attending these events may register online or onsite at Austin Hall during the welcome reception. Registration is $65.

For more information, contact Child at or visit

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