Health Scholar to Give Poskanzer Lecture

Health Scholar to Give Poskanzer Lecture


Collins O. Airhihenbuwa, an internationally recognized scholar in the cultural aspect of public health around the world, will discuss global disparities in health care during the fifth annual Charles N. Poskanzer Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at SUNY Cortland.

Airhihenbuwa, professor and chair of the Bio-behavioral Health Department at The Pennsylvania State University’s College of Health and Human Development, will present “Global Health Equity and the Location of Culture,” at 7 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

Sponsored by the College’s Health Department, the lecture is free and open to the public. The event is supported by the Charles N. Poskanzer Fund, an endowment named in honor of the late SUNY Distinguished Service Professor emeritus who taught in the College’s Health Department for 40 years.

The fund was established through the Cortland College Foundation five years ago as an endowment to support an annual, public lecture offered by the College’s Health Department in honor of its former colleague. Since Poskanzer’s death in 2010, the fund has continued to grow through donations made in his memory as part of “Educating Champions, the Campaign for Cortland, SUNY Cortland’s ambitious effort to raise $25 million by 2013.

“The Poskanzer Lecture allows the Health Department to bring national leaders in public and community health to campus to meet with students and faculty and to deliver a public lecture on a current public health issue,” observed Bonni Hodges, department chair.

“We have found that the classroom visits and formal lecture by these esteemed professionals trigger discussions within and outside the classroom sometimes for the rest of the semester,” she said. “We strive to invite those whose work illustrates the interdisciplinary nature of public health, providing relevance to many on campus. Many of our colleagues working in public health agencies and other health-related organizations in surrounding communities look forward to the lecture.”

Airhihenbuwa has spent more than two decades pioneering and promoting HIV/AIDS education.

“The quest for equity in global health continues to remain a major challenge, particularly in the global south,” said Airhihenbuwa, who has presented at numerous international conferences on health education and promotion.

“Culture offers a critical lens through which health is defined and notions of success and failure are better understood,” he said. “Global health demands a multidisciplinary approach to understanding individual behaviors and their contexts and why inequity persists.”

Since 2005, he has directed Penn State’s Alliance for Earth Sciences, Engineering and Development in Africa Center for Global Health and Geo-resource Management.

“The lecture will examine some directions and ways to bridge inequity gaps in global health with culture as a critical point of departure,” said Airhihenbuwa, who was recognized in 1997 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

He was honored in 2006 with the David Satcher Award for Leadership in Reducing Health Disparities and Improving Health Promotion and Education Programs by the Centers for Disease Control and the Directors of Health Promotion and Education (DHPE).

Raised in Nigeria, Airhihenbuwa has a doctorate in public health education and a Master of Public Health in Health Planning and Administration from University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Planning and Administration from Tennessee State University in Nashville. He has a Certificate in Health Administration and Planning from Meharry Medical College in Nashville.

Airhihenbuwa joined the university’s faculty in University Park, Pa., in 1984, after serving four years as assistant to the dean for minority affairs in its College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. He teaches courses in the areas of international/cross cultural health, U.S. ethnic minority health, planning, implementation, and evaluation of health promotion programs.

From 1986 to 1991, Airhihenbuwa took part in Visiting Professor of Health Care in Developing Countries, an annual summer certificate program at the Boston University School of Public Health.

From 1991 to 1992, during a sabbatical leave, he conducted research with the World Health Organization of Geneva, Switzerland. His studies encompassed Congo, Malawi and Nigeria. He also focused his scholarship on the United Nations Development Program in Nigeria.

Airhihenbuwa is the author of six books and monographs, including Healing Our Differences: The Crisis of Global Health and the Politics of Identity (2007) and Health and Culture: Beyond the Western Paradigm (1995). He co-edited, with two others, a UNAIDS/Penn State Project titled UNAIDS (1999) Communications Framework for HIV/AIDS: An Annotated Bibliography. He has written numerous book chapters, journal articles, technical reports and book reviews and is a frequent conference keynote speaker.

Listed among the 1987 Outstanding Young Men of America, in 1993 Airhihenbuwa was presented the Young Professional Award of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. In 1995, he received the American Association for Health Education (AAHE)’s Presidential Award. The American Journal of Health Promotion honored him in 2001 with The Symbol of HOPE Award.

A Fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research and the American Association for Health Behavior, he also is a Distinguished Fellow of the Society for Public Health Education.

For more information, contact Alan Sofalvi, associate professor of health, at (607) 753-2980.