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Dr. Virginia M. Brennan Visits Skeptics to Advocate for Healthcare 
Paula Hong '16
edited horizontal of dr. brennan

While Dr. Virginia M. Brennan obtained her bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy at Yale University, she shifted her attention and pursued developmental psychology and linguistics for her master’s and doctorate degrees at Columbia University and the University of Massachusetts, respectively. On Tuesday, March 26, the experienced associate professor and dedicated advocate for underserved communities shared more on how she eventually found her path and her current work with Skeptics.

With more than 22 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations and institutions, Dr. Brennan has accumulated accreditation both for her work in higher education institutions and the greater health community. She currently studies and serves as an associate professor at the Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, and prior to her current work, she taught at Vanderbilt University and Swarthmore College. 

Used to a different, slightly older audience, Dr. Brennan noted in a pre-event interview that “It is gratifying to talk to very young people—their minds are often still open to new ideas. One key message I hope students will take away from the talk is that most health outcomes spring from social determinants as opposed to medical intervention. Health justice entails addressing upstream differences in housing, education, environmental exposures, involvement with the criminal justice system and other domains.”

On Tuesday, in addition to sharing her life story, the scholar intends to shed light on the disparities among racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups in the United States in morbidity, which encompasses illness, injury and disease, as well as  mortality.
“I look forward to bringing some of what I have learned editing the Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved at Meharry Medical College to interested students and look forward to having an open discussion of the issues—especially concerning society and social justice—brought up by looking carefully at health in the United States”

History of Skeptics
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

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