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Santa Monica College Symposium to Focus on Public Health Policy


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By Lookout Staff

April 30, 2018 -- The Santa Monica College Public Policy Institute will explore how California citizens can influence both local and national public health policy during a symposium next week.

Titled “Healing: Mending Lives and Seeking Healthfulness through Innovative Policies and Approaches,” the symposium includes film screenings, panel discussions, interactive faculty-student forums and a community talk on health advocacy.

All symposium events are free and open to the public. Seating is on a first-arrival basis, unless reservations are required.

“SMC’s Public Policy Institute educates students to identify problems and seek steps to solve them,” said PPI co-director and SMC Professor of Political Science Dr. Richard Tahvildaran-Jesswein.

“Through programming such as the Spring Symposium, we help students become better advocates for policies that relate to health care, understand the bigger policy picture, and to develop career goals.”

The symposium kicks off Monday, May 7 with a screening of "Life in Color,” an SMC student film that was accepted this month into The American Pavilion at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival ("Fourth Santa Monica College Student Film Picked to Screen at Cannes," April 17, 2018).

"After the film, SMC Film Production Professor Mickey Birnbaum will lead a discussion along with the student filmmakers about the issues explored in the film and their relation to mindfulness and mental health," officials said.

The free screening will take place at 5 p.m. in the Auditorium/Room 180, Center for Media and Design, 1660 Stewart Street.

On Tuesday, May 8, four SCM professors will share their views during a discussion titled “Flourishing? What’s it Gonna Take?” at 11:15 a.m. in the Stromberg Lecture Hall (HSS 165), SMC Main Campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard.

The professors will discuss "film, humor, and politics to prompt and facilitate a community discussion about what keeps us from flourishing in today’s world," event organizers said.

Panelists are Paul Klumpe, Amber Katherine, Ali Mohsen and Natalina Monteiro.

On Wednesday, May 9, at noon, Debra Farmer, president/CEO of Westside Family Health Center (WFHC) will discuss “Women as Advocates” during a lunch at the Thelma Terry Room in Virginia Avenue Park, 2200 Virginia Avenue.

To RSVP email or call Julie Kirk at (310) 450-4773 ext. 230.

A Panel Discussion titled “Healing the Body, Mending the Mind” will take place Thursday, May 10 at 11:15 a.m. in the Stromberg Lecture Hall (HSS 165) on the main campus.

The panel will explore "the interconnection between physical, psychological, and emotional healing from trauma with Operation Mend, an innovative UCLA program," organizers said.

The program provides advanced medical treatment, comprehensive psychological support and an intensive treatment program for post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury for post-9/11-era service members, veterans, and their families, in collaboration with the SMC Veterans Resource Center.

On Thursday, May 10 the symposium will feature a keynote discussion titled “How Does Health Policy Impact Lives and Opportunity?” at 7 p.m. SMC Performing Arts Center, East Wing; 1310 11th Street.

This keynote panel features Dr. Jody Heymann, Dean of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and Mayra Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership.

The panel will discuss "pressing issues in access to health care and other services essential to health in underserved communities," said.

A reception at 6 p.m. will precede the program. The event is free, but RSVP is required. For RSVPs, email

The symposium concludes Saturday, May 12 with a free screening of the 2018 Academy Award-winning short subject documentary “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405” at 7 p.m. at the Aero Theater, 1328 Montana Avenue.

A panel discussion led by producer/director Frank Stiefel, an SMC alum, will take place from 8 to 8:45 p.m. Stiefel will be joined by Mindy Alper, the artist featured in the documentary.

The discussion will "delve into innovative approaches to dealing with mental health issues," organizers said.



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