“An Evening of Health, Wellness and the Arts” has become an annual event at East Tennessee State University, and few people have the kind of career and credentials that capture the spirit of the event better than John Hoffman.
One of the nation’s leading documentary filmmakers and a winner of multiple Emmy Awards, Hoffman will visit ETSU on Thursday, Oct. 24, to discuss the making of films that addressed the complexities and issues surrounding four separate, major U.S. health issues. Hoffman’s talk, “Complex Emotions/Complex Science: 25 Years of Lessons from Communicating AIDS, Addiction, Alzheimer’s and Obesity to the American People,” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Martha Street Culp Auditorium.
Admission is free and the event is open to the public. The auditorium is located in the lower level of the D.P. Culp University Center.
“The passion that John has for improving our overall health really shows in his films,” said Dr. Randy Wykoff, dean of the ETSU College of Public Health. “Because he has reached audiences in a way that is approachable, watchable, informative and thought-provoking, John has been one of the most important voices in public health for over 20 years.”
Three series in particular that were made by Hoffman — “The Weight of the Nation,” “Addiction” and “The Alzheimer’s Project” — are familiar to many. They were made in close collaboration with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and all were broadcast on HBO, where Hoffman formerly served as vice president of HBO Documentary Films.
Hoffman is now founder and CEO of The Public Good Projects, a non-profit partnership dedicated to utilizing media to help the public better understand complex health issues. The organization’s first major initiative, “A Healthy America,” has been conceived in partnership with the Institute of Medicine and will premiere in 2015.
Hoffman’s experience in public health campaigns dates to 1985, when he created the first nationally broadcast HIV prevention program: “AIDS: Changing the Rules.” The program featured Ron Reagan, son of the 40th U.S. president, and Ruben Blades, a renowned singer, actor and social activist.
“John was at the forefront of early efforts to inform the public about HIV prevention, and he has been central to some of the leading public health campaigns of the past decades,” Wykoff said.
Several ETSU entities have come together to serve as sponsors. They are the Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, the College of Public Health, the Public Health Student Association, LIFEPATH-Tennessee Public Health Training Center, the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine and the Division of Radio/TV/Film.
To learn more about The Public Good Projects, visit www.publicgoodprojects.org. Hoffman’s three best-known HBO films can be viewed online.
For more information about “An Evening of Health, Wellness and the Arts,” or to request assistance for those with disabilities, call (423) 439-4243. The event will be streamed live at http://elearning.etsu.edu/publichealthlive.htm.