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The Gardner Fellows Virtual Policy Conference 2020:

Sustainability, Health, Well-Being

What policies are necessary for the health and well-being of a people? How do we research, implement, and understand such policies in the context of aging populations, climate change, and technological innovation? The presentations in this section explore genetic testing and chronic illness (Aita), the semantic confusion over important pain management and end of life health care (McMillan), and the sustainability of New Jersey’s agricultural sector (Santiago).

The State of Affairs and Ethical Implications of IBD Genetic Testing

Rohit Aita
Major: Genetics
Faculty Advisor: Professor Michael Verzi

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic illness of the digestive tract that is characterized by recurrent inflammation. The prevalence of IBD is increasing, especially within Westernized countries, and to date, there is no single identifiable cause nor cure. While treatments can help achieve remission or control with IBD, they often carry many risks and no treatment is guaranteed for long-term control. As of today, genetics is one of the many risk factors of IBD, yet IBD related genetic testing is a largely understudied topic. Genetic testing is an emerging technology that intersects the fields of ethics and genetics. To that end, I investigate the scientific progress and ethical implications of IBD genetic testing by conducting a conceptual literature review on PubMed.

The Semantic Dissonance Surrounding Palliative Care

Julia McMillan
Major: English and Public Health
Faculty Advisor: Professor Anita Franzione

More than fifty years have passed since palliative care was first introduced as a pain-mitigating service for patients dying from cancer, and since then the patient population that may benefit from this medical service has expanded considerably. However, palliative care’s complex association with hospice care and its various definitions across medical literature have contributed to the term’s continued association with end-of-life care and resulted in a stigma rooted in society’s fear of death. This paper examines the confusion associated with the term palliative care through an analysis of terminology that has appeared in definitions over time. I begin by providing a brief history of the origins of palliative care and hospice care, and later shift to a discussion of the specific terminology that has perpetuated negative connotations of palliative care. According to my findings, confusion and death-related stigma have resulted in limited access to palliative care, and an unwillingness of physicians to refer patients to palliative care services. We must confront the semantic dissonance and death-related stigma that plagues the term palliative care through education and the creation of a stronger, universal definition.

Security and Sustainability:

New Jersey Agriculture

Juan Santiago
Major: Political Science
Minor: Spanish
Faculty Advisor: Professor Mark Robson

Agriculture plays a vital role in its economy and quality of life of New Jersey. However, factors such as climate change and unsustainable farming policies and practices pose a substantial risk to its sustainability. If left unchecked, climate change will lead to changes in temperature and weather that could seriously affect New Jersey agricultural systems. Building on various sources, this paper creates an initial evaluation of sustainability in New Jersey agriculture and argues for its importance in dealing with climate change and its effects. In this context, sustainable agriculture is a system that can produce enough food and keep the land fertile and productive for generations to come. The results, however, indicate that there is insufficient data collected in order to determine just how sustainable New Jersey Agriculture is. Further research should evaluate how many farmers are aware of the resources available to them from the state, and a more extensive research project could assess a certain number of farms in a county for sustainable farming practices.