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MEDHUM-MIN - Medical Humanities (Minor)

Anthropology Undergraduate Matriculated

Program Overview

Medical Humanities encompasses disciplines within the arts, humanities, medicine, and social sciences. Its goal is to allow students and scholars to explore a more holistic and meaning-centered perspective on medical issues. The approach generally emphasizes the subjective experience of health and illness as captured through the expressive arts (for example, painting, music, and literature), expressed across historical periods and in different cultures, and interpreted by humanistic scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Its goal is to allow students and scholars to explore a more holistic and meaning-centered perspective on medical issues. It draws attention not only to diagnosis but to the meaning and experience of diagnosis, to the way that medicine is an art form as well as a science, and to the way institutions and culture shape how illness is identified, experienced, and treated. Its concerns range from the existential and artistic to the political and policy-oriented. The minor in Medical Humanities offers students context, tools, examples, and active involvement in research to make sense of concerns at the intersection of medicine, culture, and the arts and provide them with a way to reflect upon medical challenges.

Students will learn to appreciate the body and medical issues from multiple disciplinary and aesthetic perspectives. For example, we hope that students will understand epidemics from epidemiological data and through literature, painting, performance, history, culture, politics, sociology, and policy. A critical insight provided by Medical Humanities is that your disciplinary approach shapes your conclusions significantly; multiple methods thus help us get closer to the complexity of the natural world and living life.

We expect that in any topic that becomes of great interest to them, students will reach across the two cultures of science (medicine in particular) and the humanities, and hold an awareness of each. We anticipate that those students who go on to medical school will remain engaged with the arts and humanities in that pursuit and that those who go on to other endeavors, be they more humanistic, sociological, political, or otherwise scientific, will retain an understanding of how medicine and medical issues are present in their domain.

The goals of the minor are:

  • To learn how the different disciplines that make Medical Humanities differ as disciplines and how they can effectively collaborate to address significant issues in today’s world

  • To experience critical thinking, research, evaluation, and presentation skills as expressed in more than one discipline

  • To learn how an interdisciplinary approach can promote reflection and self-understanding about the health of the body and the mind from multiple perspectives

  • To cultivate a clear connection to contemporary issues of students’ choosing in the Medical Humanities area