Trust Science? Political and Religious Polarization as a Public Health Problem

Event sponsored by:

Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine
School of Medicine (SOM)


Trent Center


Emma Green and Molly Worthen headshots


Emma Green, journalist/writer, The New Yorker and Molly Worthen, historian and journalist, UNC-Chapel Hill; The New York Times
Reception to follow - Masks encouraged Major public health challenges such as the COVID pandemic, the opioid crisis, and gun violence cannot be solved by clinicians and policymakers alone; they require ordinary people to work with each other in pursuit of common goods. But Americans find themselves more divided than ever, with partisan political differences reinforced and exploited by media ecosystems and correlated with geography, race, class, and religion. This political and social polarization erodes the trust required for broad-based collective responses to health crises, undermines the power of public health officials and institutions, and challenges clinicians' ability to speak with patients around politically controversial topics. Please join us for a moderated discussion with journalist Emma Green (New Yorker) and historian and journalist Molly Worthen (UNC, New York Times), who will consider how today's religious and political polarization is a public health problem and ways that clinicians, health systems, and public health officials can respond. They will help us to understand the dynamics of the polarization, to envision ways that clinicians and health systems can work to build trust and to be trustworthy, and to explore ways of speaking and listening that lead to shared commitment to the health of our neighbors and to the common good. This talk is co-sponsored by the Civil Discourse Project, Kenan Institute for Ethics, and Theology, Medicine, and Culture at Duke University. The talk will be in the Great Hall, Trent Semans Center for Health Education, at 8 Searle Center Drive on Duke University's Medical Campus.

Trent Humanities in Medicine Lecture