Bastyr University to Host "Human Library" Event

Bastyr University is taking unique steps to train its students to be unbiased health care professionals. On Wednesday, May 16, the University will offer its Second Annual Michelle Eustache Human Library event at Bastyr Center for Natural Health to help student clinicians explore prejudices and dispel stereotypes they may possess when encountering diverse patient populations.

The event is named in honor of Michelle Eustache, a Bastyr University naturopathic medical student who died tragically last spring. Michelle was a leading force in organizing the initial Human Library event in 2011. “Michelle was an extraordinary person who cared deeply about issues of diversity and social justice,” said Dan Rosen, PhD, faculty member in Bastyr University’s Department of Counseling and Health Psychology and the event organizer. “The leadership committee’s decision to name the event after Michelle was a small gesture to honor the legacy of a brilliant and kind individual.”

While the Human Library concept has been implemented across the world and throughout the United States, the model of applying it in service of training health care professionals is unique to Bastyr University. This library is a living, breathing group of volunteer participants, known as "books," each representing different marginalized or less familiar identities. Bastyr students will be able to learn from and ask questions directly to these "books," with the goal of demystifying preconceived notions and reminding students not to "judge others by their covers."

"We are very excited about the Human Library project as an innovative way to promote diversity training for Bastyr University students," said Dr. Rosen. "Getting our students out of their comfort zones in order to become educated about marginalized and oppressed communities is the most effective way to learn, and is a bold but necessary step in their development as future health professionals."

Among the guests scheduled to appear are "books" who are: HIV-positive, blind and deaf, Muslim, transgender, and non-native speakers of English. These guests were specifically chosen after Bastyr University students completed a survey detailing patients about whom they felt they knew the least.

Approximately 60 student clinicians and 15 community leaders (“books”) are expected to attend. The Human Library event at Bastyr Center for Natural Health is sponsored by the Bastyr University Diversity Committee and will take place from 5:30-9 p.m. May 16 at Bastyr Center. A reception featuring food and music will immediately follow.

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