Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

2013 Activities

February 25, 2013

Mysteries of Life (course) – Is a common theoretical framework possible?

Discussant: Duane Alwin, Professor of Sociology

March 18, 2013

Health Disparities – Can they be eliminated?

Healthy People 2010, a comprehensive, national health promotion and disease prevention agenda developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), identified eliminating health disparities as a national goal. What is meant by the term health disparities? Given what we know about the social origins of inequalities in health, is this goal attainable? What would have to change in society as we know it to eliminate health disparities? This workshop reviews the concept of health disparities within the larger literature that focuses on health inequalities and addresses the challenges offered by Healthy People 2010.

Suggested reading: How Far Have We Come in Reducing Health Disparities? Progress Since 2000: Workshop Summary. Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and the Elimination of Health Disparities. Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice. Institute of Medicine. National Academies Press, 2012.

Discussant: Steven Haas

April 22, 2013

Longevity – What are your chances?

The human lifespan continues to increase, and the dramatic rise in human life expectancy, even in already low-mortality populations, continues to puzzle demographers. These phenomena, and their implications for the aging of populations, raise important questions about human life span potential. Classical Darwinian evolutionary theory accounts for survival only through the age of reproduction, or (in the words of demographer James Vaupel) “the force of evolution peters out with age.” What then accounts for post-reproductive survival in humans? This is a question posed by biologists, biodemographers and evolutionary anthropologists—this workshop focuses attention on what cross-disciplinary longevity researchers are finding.

Suggested reading: James R. Carey. (2003). Longevity: The biology and demography of life span. Chapter 10: “A conceptual overview of life span,” pp. 221-244. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Discussant: Jason Thomas

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