The Holistic Research Center’s Annual Symposium took place in early July and brought together various members of the JFKU community to learn about current research happening via the HRC. Attendees heard from keynote speaker Suzette Celeste Johnson and from the center’s current cadre of researchers. The event offered attendees the opportunity to understand the type of work the center supports and to connect in conversation about community mental health concerns.

The theme of this year’s symposium, Reconnecting through Research, was embodied by the unique way each researcher’s project fostered connection through community, as well as by the conversations and potential partnerships generated by the event itself. 

“There is much division felt in the nation right now and people are looking for ways to connect,” says Zvi Bellin, Director of the Holistic Research Center (HRC). “One way we can do that is through learning, through bringing people with different voices and ideas together and cultivating wisdom.”

Different ways of fostering connection were apparent throughout all of the projects presented. The theme kicked off with keynote speaker Suzette Celeste Johnson’s discussion of the Contra Costa County Life Course Initiative, a 15-year project which has worked to overturn systemic racism by addressing disparity in health outcomes between black and white families in the county.

From a narrative study of older latino women’s attempts to find empowerment to research into human trafficking rehabilitation, from workplace wellness to veteran trauma, and from body image to stories of holistic wellness, each of the projects and presenters at the symposium demonstrated a style of research focused on people coming together and connecting the dots between their experiences to create change.

According to Bellin, the event has also provided the HRC the opportunity to develop stronger partnerships with the Valor Center at JFKU, the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, and the Contra Costa County Life Course Initiative. The momentum from the event suggests exciting things to come, so stay tuned for more holistic research news at JFKU!