Both faith-based and human rights organizations work to address global health issues, but divergent ideological approaches can create discord and ultimately undermine the efforts of both groups. This idea, examined in the book, “Beholden: Religion, Global Health, and Human Rights,” has earned its author the 2016 University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary Grawemeyer Award in Religion.
Susan Holman explores how healthcare efforts based on a human rights approach can overlook the important role religions play in communities; and how faith-based initiatives are often more focused on the benefactor than on the recipient of care. She highlights how a combined approach, incorporating religious views and traditions with dialogue about economic and social rights, can be useful in combating global health problems.
“This is theology at ground level,” said award director Shannon Craigo-Snell. “Holman investigates specific events, people and situations to glean wisdom regarding both religion and global health. By the final chapter, she evokes an image of global humanity in which we all recognize that we are beholden to one another—both givers and receivers in inescapable interconnection.”
Holman, a senior writer at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is uniquely qualified to address these topics. She holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from Brown University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Science degree in nutrition from Tufts University School of Nutrition Science and Policy. Her two undergraduate bachelor’s degrees—one in psychology and one in nutrition—are from Valparaiso University.
Holman is among the five Grawemeyer Award winners named this week, pending formal approval by the university’s board of trustees. The University of Louisville presents the prizes annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education and presents a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The 2016 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.