2021 Dean's Seminar Series

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2021 Dean's Seminar Series Archived Recordings

Please save the date for the 2021 Dean's Seminar Series which will focus on health equity and feature leading experts in the field. More information will be available in the coming weeks. All events were held virtually and recorded. 


Sherman James

March 15
To Race with the World: John Henryism and the Health of Black Americans

Sherman James, PhD
Susan B. King Professor Emeritus of Public Policy
Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University

The daunting racial inequities in education, income, housing, and health care borne by Black Americans at the turn of the 20th century led W.E.B. DuBois to write this in the opening essay of his 1903 classic, The Souls of Black Folks: “A people thus handicapped ought not to be asked to race with the world, but rather allowed to give all its time and thought to its own social problems…” But race they did, out of necessity and a determination to exercise agency in their daily lives despite the constraints of a racial caste system recently codified in law as well as social customs. Few expressions of late 19th century Black folk culture better capture what this “race with the world” - under handicapped conditions - looks like than the legend of John Henry - the steel driving man. Challenged by his White supervisor to race against a machine in an epic steel-driving contest, the legendary steel-driver – most likely a convict laborer – beat the machine but then dropped dead from complete exhaustion. The legend of John Henry thus gave rise to the concept of John Henryism defined as “repeated, high-effort coping with difficult social and economic stressors,” and by extension to the John Henryism hypothesis which posits that, over time, such high-effort coping accelerates aging of the cardiovascular system, one key manifestation of which among Black Americans is the earlier onset - compared to White Americans -of high blood pressure. In this presentation, I will discuss the historical and scientific origins of the John Henryism hypothesis; critically review findings from major tests of the hypothesis; comment on future research needs; and conclude with some thoughts on how John Henryism research can inform social and economic policies that include promoting racial health equity among the objectives.    


April 7
My Journey to Discover Why Disparities Exist ... and What to Do About Them

Thomas LaVeist, PhD, MA
Dean and Weatherhead Presidential Chair in Health Equity
Tulane University School of Public Health & Tropical Medicine




April 15
Moving Beyond Efficacy and Effectiveness: Pragmatic Implementation Research to Reduce Health Disparities

Roshan Bastani, PhD
Director of UCLA Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Equity & UCLA Center for Prevention Research
Professor Health Policy and Management
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health