“Teachers Talk” about mental health for Nobel

Leah ThompsonStaff Writer

The Nobel Conference is returning to Gustavus for Nobel Conference 58: Mental Health (In)Equity and Young People. This year’s conference starts on Wednesday, September 28, and continues through Thursday, September 29 at the Lund Arena.

Tickets are available to students free of charge and can be purchased at the student’s earliest convenience. If a student is unable to attend, the conference will be live-streamed on the conference website and archived to watch at a later date.

There will be four total sessions split between the two conference dates with two occurring on each day. Doors will open for The Nobel Conference at 8:30 a.m. on both Wednesday, September 28 and Thursday, September 29.

The Nobel Foundation, located in Stockholm, Sweden, has had a relationship with Gustavus since the naming of the Alfred Nobel Hall of Science in 1963, when they were given permission from The Nobel Foundation to name the science building after Alfred Nobel.

Gustavus was also given permission to host The Nobel Conference. This makes Gustavus the only place in the United States to host the lecture program with the official stamp of approval from the foundation.

Since the early 1960s, Gustavus has been hosting The Nobel Conference, a series of lectures that reflect on some of present-day society’s most important and pressing issues regarding both the physical and social sciences.

Throughout the years The Nobel Conference has touched on topics such as climate change, the solar system, economics, and accessibility to medicine.

With this year’s subject Mental Health (In)Equality and Young People the speakers will be presenting on a number of topics regarding race-related experiences and mental health outcomes, mental health among autistic youth, and inclusive-change making.

Professor of Philosophy and Nobel Conference Director Lisa Heldke has been working as the Conference Director for years and helps to run and supervise the unfolding of each year’s conference. This process happens by working closely with the chairs who are experts on the year’s topic, along with the Nobel Conference committee.

“We work to publicize the conference in the wider world and to envision ways to make it available to more people,” Heldke said.

As a Nobel Conference Director, Heldke was able to explain that this year’s topic focuses on Gustavus students and their experiences. It’s about identities and inequity and how they can shape daily life.

This year’s presenters include Meryl Alper, Manuela Barreto, Daniel Eisenberg, Joseph P. Gone, Priscilla Lui, G. Nic Rider, and Brandesha Tynes. All presenters are professors from various universities and experts in their respective fields ranging from communications to psychology to social medicine.

“[The Nobel Conference is] addressing issues about your identity and living in a world with multiple crises from Covid to climate change. Your life is shaped by multiple identities regarding racial, sex/gender/sexuality, class, and dis/ability and how society does or does not address these inequities” Heldke said.

Each presenter will be lecturing on a unique aspect of mental health and how young people are being affected by it. Panel discussions and audience Q&As occur throughout the day allowing attendees to ask their own questions on the subject matter.

Workshops, learning labs, and led activities are aspects of this year’s Nobel Conference that help engage the Conference attendees. However, independent activities in Christ Chapel and the Bonnier Multifaith Center in Anderson Hall both hold an area for quiet reflection and decompression during the day.

“Students should know that there is a chance for them to talk with presenters in a small format discussion, open only to Gustavus students. These discussions will happen on Wednesday afternoon,” Heldke said.

Gustavus students have an exclusive opportunity to meet with the panel speakers from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 28 on the first floor of Beck Hall. During this meeting students are able to gain in-depth knowledge about the various subjects by asking their own questions to the speakers.

Tickets to the 58th Annual Nobel Conference: Mental Health (In)Equity and Young People are available online free of charge for students on the Gustavus website. Presentations will be held Wednesday, Sept 28, through Thursday, Sept 29 at the Lund Arena.