Health Humanities is an academic area open to all students. The division between health, medicine, culture, and religion is far less distinct than one might expect. Pursuing research and coursework in the health humanities invites interesting questions, such as:

  • What does it mean to be “healthy”?
  • How have the ways we think about health and healthiness changed over time?
  • How do people across different cultures think differently about health, illness, and medicine?
  • What is the difference between illness and disease?
  • If we have biomedicine, why do so many people continue to practice alternative medicine or to seek healing in spirituality or religion?
  • What does it mean to say that medicine has a history?

Do you want to be a medical doctor or other health professional?

Then you might be especially interested in work in the health humanities. Many scholars and medical professionals find the humanities to be indispensable for good medical education. How so?

According to medical profressionals Daryl Ramai and Shoshanna Goldin,

the study of humanities contributes to the development of students’ and practitioners’ capacity to listen, interpret, and communicate, while fostering an appreciation for the ethical dimensions of practice []. This places more focus on the patient as a whole, assessing both objective and subjective experiences of illness and health. […] This degree of introspective thinking facilitates and encourages a willingness and capacity for innovation surrounding larger public debates such as with the Universal Health Care Act within the United States [].

But you don’t need to wait until medical school to think about the health humanities. Check out courses in this area regularly taught in the College of Arts and Sciences!