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January 9, 2019 - “Medicating Our Lives Away: The Opioid Epidemic, Public Health, and Medical Practice,” will be the subject of the annual Bessette Lecture on Medical Ethics to be held at 7 p.m. Monday, February 4, in the Burke Auditorium of the William J. McGowan School of Business at King’s College.

Saint André Bessette, the first Holy Cross Congregation member to attain sainthood, was known as a healer and for his devotion to the sick and afflicted.

The free public lecture will be presented by Dr. Joel Shuman, professor of theology at King’s.  Shuman is spending the current academic year as a Visiting Scholar in the Theology, Medicine, and Culture Initiative at Duke University Divinity School.  While at Duke, he is continuing work on a funded multidisciplinary research project addressing the opioid epidemic.  In the fall he led a seminar at Duke titled “Responding to Pain in Light of the Opioid Crisis.”   Recently he was a member of a panel titled “Interrogating the Opioid Crisis” at the annual meeting of the Society of Christian Ethics.

During his presentation, Shuman will discuss how the current crisis is the result of a broad variety of factors ranging from the practice of medicine to the broader economics of healthcare to the war on drugs to fundamental changes in social and economic structures and their effects on questions of human flourishing and meaning.

A faculty member at King’s since 2001, Shuman’s research focuses on the intersection of theology and medicine and other applied biological sciences. He is author of numerous scholarly articles and four books: “The Body of Compassion: Ethics, Medicine and the Church” (1999), “Heal Thyself: Spirituality, Medicine and the Distortion of Christianity,” “Reclaiming the Body: Christians and the Faithful Use of Modern Medicine,” and “To Live is to Worship: Bioethics and the Body of Christ.”

A native of West Virginia, Shuman earned his bachelor’s degree in physical therapy from the Medical College of Virginia. After practicing physical therapy for several years in Wisconsin, West Virginia and Virginia, he returned to school to develop his interests in Christian theology and moral and political philosophy. Shuman earned his doctorate from the Graduate School of Duke.  

The McGowan School of Business is located at the corner of N. River and W. Union streets in Wilkes-Barre.  Free parking will be available at King’s lots.  For more information, contact Dr. Bernard Prusak, director, McGowan Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility, at (570) 208-5900, ext. 5689.

Dr. Joel Shuman