Exhibit Illustrates Need for Interdisciplinary Work in Health Equity

“While health disparities are well documented, they are not well understood,” said Leandris Liburd, associate director of the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a discussion held by the Center for Law, Health & Society. The event was a collaboration among Georgia State Law, the School of Public Health and the University Library.

Liburd, along with panelist Louise E. Shaw, curator at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, were key collaborators in the development and design of the original Health is a Human Right: Race and Place in America exhibit at the CDC Museum. A modified version of the exhibit is on display at the College of Law. 

Many people have the perception that health disparities, particularly racial and ethnic health disparities, are intractable or resistant to change, Liburd said. “But this view of the problem lacks an understanding of what contributes to the disparities, and what is needed to effectively reduce and eliminate those disparities that are largely preventable,” she said.

The exhibit was developed in part to answer the question of why health disparities continue to exist, Liburd said. “Part of the answer to that is that the social conditions have not changed, and so we cannot realistically expect significant changes in our health outcomes.”

Displaying the exhibit as a partnership between many departments at Georgia State exemplifies the goal of creating a space that encourages interdisciplinary collaboration in finding solutions to health disparities.

“Many disciplines are on parallel tracks, trying to address health disparities, but they are not connecting,” Liburd said. “We need to bring these different perspectives together and really problem solve collectively so we can set a new trajectory.”

The themes in the exhibit are broad, said Stacie Kershner (J.D. ’08), associate director of the Center for Law, Health & Society at the College of Law, who helped install the exhibit.

“Professors will find pieces in the exhibit that resonate with their research and teaching, including race, poverty, labor and employment, immigration and relocation, education, the environment, and more,” she said. “I can imagine many different classroom conversations arising from the pieces in the exhibit as students relate historical challenges to those faced today.”

Kim Ramsey White, director of undergraduate programs at the School of Public Health, who was integral in bringing the exhibit to Georgia State, said the exhibit is a powerful way to show students across the university how they, in whatever profession they choose, will have an impact on health.

“As universities, it’s a big part of our responsibility to educate our citizenry in ways that push the envelope a little and help us to deal with some of the difficult conversations that need to be had,” she said. “This exhibit is a great way to be able to do that.”

The exhibit was generously provided by the David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Health is a Human Right: Race and Place in America is open to the public at Georgia State Law. Visit publichealth.gsu.edu/health-exhibit for details.

To extend learning beyond the limited time on display and location, visit an interactive, online version of the exhibit with additional materials, which the university will continue to build upon at library.gsu.edu/healthexhibit.