Wilkes-Barre, Pa., May 11, 2022— King’s College will host the conference “Health, Hope, and Despair” on Thursday, September 8 and Friday, September 9 at its Sheehy-Farmer Campus Center. The conference is co-sponsored by King’s and the Lehigh Valley Health Network, with generous support from the Moses Taylor Foundation.

“Health, Hope, and Despair” is an interdisciplinary conference focused on both the causes and the consequences of despair in contemporary culture and seeks to identify and investigate reasons for hope and practices that support it. Among questions about causes and consequences, presenters will seek greater clarity on the interplay between personal and public health.

“The idea for this conference predates the pandemic,” said Bernard Prusak, Ph.D., professor of philosophy, director of the College’s McGowan Center for Ethics, and one of the conference’s organizers. “Diseases and deaths of despair—especially among working-class people—have become endemic in our country. But then the pandemic came along, and our political divisions deepened. Now, despair is everywhere you look, including in our healthcare systems.”

As an institution sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross—whose motto is “Hail the Cross, our only hope”—King’s College president Rev. Thomas P. Looney, C.S.C., Ph.D. finds the conference a fitting event for its mission.

“I trust that this conference will be a wellspring of hope as its participants gather to confront the demon of despair that can confront the lives of caregivers, patients, families, and public health official and policymakers,” he remarked.

The first day of the conference, Thursday, September 8, will feature four sessions from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. with presentations by academics and physicians and administrators from the Lehigh Valley Health Network, Geisinger, and Montefiore Medical Center.

The second day of the conference, Friday, September 9, will feature presentations by healthcare professionals, health and biological sciences educators, and social science or humanities scholars. Individuals interested in presenting on the second day should submit proposals for consideration by Friday, July 15, 2022.

“As the world evolves towards an end and eventually post-COVID-19 state, there is a need to look back and reflect,” said Dr. Christopher O’Brien, dean of health sciences, associate clinical professor of sports medicine at King’s College, and another organizer of the conference. “Dialogue among healthcare professionals, educators, and scholars is critical for assessing strategies and developing paths forward to prepare for the next inevitable pandemic.”

The cost of attendance is $50. Conference organizers have applied for continuing education credits to be available to healthcare professionals attending the first day. Please visit kings.edu/healthhopedespair for complete information on the conference, registration, and requirements for paper and poster submissions. For questions, please contact Dr. Prusak at bernardprusak@kings.edu or 570-208-5900 ext. 5689.