September 2009 Archives
Class of 2008
Pre-Medicine and Spanish
Schreyer Honors Scholar
Nominated by Jessica Erickson
It's a sad reality that not all people of the world enjoy the same access to health care that many of us enjoy. And the causes are complex, for even when there are free clinics, such as the free orthopedic surgery clinic in San Pedro Sula, many Honduran families cannot take advantage of it for the heart-breaking reason that they simply cannot afford the travel expenses to get to and from the clinic. Penn State student Liz Francis thought problems like this should have solutions, and she found a way to provide them.
Liz initiated a Penn State Chapter of the Global Medical Relief Program, or GlobeMed, directing Penn State's part in this national organization of university students determined to address iniquities in global health care. GlobeMed connects students with world-wide grassroots organizations to design, implement, and support the kinds of projects that transform lives and communities. Under Liz's direction, Penn State GlobeMed developed Project Honduras, to help Honduran families access this free clinic, simply by funding their travel to and from the clinic.
Liz's passion for addressing the inequalities in global health access has taken her into the field. Last summer she organized and led a team of Penn State students on a trip to Honduras. Liz and her fellow students visited clinics and schools, shadowed physicians, and observed the dire lack of resources as well as developing a better understanding of the cultural beliefs the Honduran people have about medicine. In order to better prepare future students for field work in Project Honduras, Liz researched and designed an independent study on Honduran culture.
Liz also organized Penn State's first annual Global Health Conference, an inaugural attempt to involve concerned students and professionals from all fields--including business, geography, and women's studies--to address iniquity in global health care. The conference's title, "Our Generation's Role in Global Health," attests to Liz's personal, ethical investment in this issue, as well as her work to provide ethical action opportunities for others. For her initiative, concern for others, and her vision for ethical action across disciplines, Liz Francis truly defines what it means to be an ethical leader.
There is one condition, though. You have to produce them in exactly the way Big Chicken, Inc. tells you to. This requires that you borrow even more money for new chicken houses, raise the chickens in conditions that you find objectionable, and not allow your operation to be seen or filmed by outsiders. What would you do?
Would you take their offer and try to ignore your worries about more debt, the health of your animals, and the quality of your product? Would you decline their offer and hope to make ends meet in some other way?
According to the makers of the recent movie Food, Inc., this is the kind of decision that many American farmers are forced to make. It is one of the many ethical challenges that face us when we consider the complex, and often messy, business of feeding millions of people every day. The following trailer should whet your appetite to participate in an informed discussion of the ethics of food production and consumption:
You probably answered something along the lines of 'Help her, of course!' You might even be shocked or appalled by anyone who would give the matter a second thought before acting. It's not only what you would do, but it's what anyone should do. If that's right, then I wonder how you might respond to a question, that I have long wondered about, and that a recent New York Times article on the drought in Kenya reminded me of:
How important is it, really, that she's your sister?
Imagine the same scenario as above, except that the woman in need is someone living on the other side of the globe who you have never met. Would helping her then become something that would be nice of you to do, as an act of charity, but not something that you should do? If so, why is this?
Would you stop eating at Joe's? Would you stop eating hamburgers altogether? Would you find yourself wondering about the workings of an industry whose products you have always taken for granted? What do you think you would find, if you took a look behind the curtain of food production in the United States? Do you think you have a right, or maybe even a responsibility, to find out where your food comes from?
The makers of the recent movie Food, Inc. think you have both a right and a responsibility to know... although they don't think you will be pleased with what you find. The movie points to a whole range of ethical challenges that confront us when we consider the complex, and often messy, business of feeding millions of people every day. The following trailer should whet your appetite to participate in an informed discussion of the ethics of food production and consumption: