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Santa Monica Symposium Focuses on Public Health

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By Lookout Staff

April 29, 2015 -- Public health will be the focus of Santa Monica College’s fourth annual Spring Symposium next month, SMC officials announced.

“Stop, Look, Listen: Community Advocacy for Public Health” will feature experts discuss public health and public health policy in a series of discussions May 11 to May 14 at the SMC campus, said  Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein, co-director of the college’s Public Policy Institute (PPI) and a political science professor at SMC.

“Public health policy directly impacts our communities and our daily lives,” said Shari Davis, a SMC political science professor and PPI co-director. “We are bringing top experts together with students and policymakers to foster innovation and explore what is possible."

All symposium events are free and open to the public, and seating is on a first-arrival basis.

Highlights include a discussion on mental health in Los Angeles County by Third District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, a screening of the acclaimed film “Still Alice” and roundtable discussions exploring the pressing challenges to the public health, well-being and the safety of youth.

Kuehl will kick off the series with “Keynote Address: State of the County,” discussing the state of mental health services in the region, on Monday, May 11, at 7 p.m. at The Broad Stage on the SMC campus. Her talk will be followed by questions from the audience.

On Tuesday, May 12, at 11:15 a.m., panelist from the Rape Treatment Center and other participants will hold a discussion, “Sex in College,” focusing on new laws, new ways of communicating, and age-old advice for healthy relationships.

“Can Mainstream Entertainment Affect Public Policy?” will be the topic of a panel discussion on Wednesday, May 13, at 5 p.m., which will be followed by a screening of country artist Glen Campbell’s documentary, “I’ll Be Me.”

The film traces Campbell’s tour across America after his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. A post-screening discussion will follow with executive producer Susan Disney Lord and producer Trevor Albert.

A roundtable discussion on “Exploring Big Public Health Issues & Personal Choices,” will take place on Thursday, May 14, at 11:15 a.m., examining the ways public policy and personal choices shape public health.

Topics will include prevention of gun violence, immunizations, wellbeing, public health preparedness, disease prevention and access to health care, SMC officials said.

The symposium concludes Thursday, May 14, at 6:30 p.m., with a screening of “Still Alice” and a panel discussion about the award-winning movie that looks at the impacts of   Alzheimer’s disease on a family.

Special guests for the event included state Sen. Ben Allen and co-producer and Alzheimer’s advocate Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns discussing how the public and the entertainment industry together can foster policy change.

“This year’s symposium on public health gives our students an opportunity to explore issues and community governance plans that impact their lives directly,” said Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

“To me, the best way to teach public policy is to address what is most important to them, and health policy is of huge interest to not only our SMC students but our community as well.”

For more about the symposium, visit, or call  310-434-3541.

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