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Medical Humanities


The Medical Humanities Integrated Pathway is designed to help students develop a broader, deeper, and more holistic understanding of health care, healing and illness.

Medical humanities has a long and storied history, but has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years as evidenced by the growing number of programs and publications in the field. The goal of medical humanities programs is, as one author puts it, “to remind us that modern medicine should look beyond its technological fixation and reductionism to reconnect with the conditions of disease and the cultural contexts of illness, as well as the myriad ways people cope with them. It is an antidote to the alleged dehumanization of modern medical education that is always on the verge of failing to foster empathic patient care.” (Brian Dolan; Humanitas: Readings in the Development of the Medical Humanities; p. 2).

The Medical Humanities pathway will consist of three components: 1) a constellation of interconnected humanities and social sciences courses focused on health, illness and medicine; 2) civic engagements related to the medical allied health fields or public health; and 3) a integrated culminating experience.

In their research and course work students will explore the cultural and psychological influences that shape experiences of health, healing and illness as well examine global models and personal narratives of health care. Civic engagements will provide students the opportunity to experience the ways in which conceptual notions of empathy, understanding, care and dignity are instantiated in health care settings.


Peter Blair
Professor of Biology; Co-Director, Center for Global Health and the Integrated Program in Health Sciences

Marya Bower
Professor of Philosophy

Mike Deibel
Professor of Chemistry; Co-Director of the Center for Global Health and the Integrated Program in Health Sciences

Vince Punzo
Professor of Psychology
Plan of Study


The courses in this Integrated Pathway have been organized into two categories — Humanities and Social Sciences. Students must take five of the courses below with at least one course from the Humanities and one course from the Social Sciences.


  • ES 150 Medical Humanities
  • ES 150 Spirit, Mind and Healing
  • ES 150 Religion and Psychology: Mapping Selves
  • ES 150 One Flew over the Cholera Pest
  • ES 150 Monsters and Marvels
  • ES 150 Stories of the Body
  • ES 150 Perfect Human
  • ES 150 Healthcare Narratives
  • ANCS 199 Medical Terminology
  • PHIL 155 Ancient Greek Philosophy
  • PHIL 363 Bioethics
  • WGSS 340 Latinx Representations in Media and Popular Culture

Social Sciences

  • PSYC 116 Behavior, Health Care and Psychology
  • PSYC 250 Brain and Behavior
  • PSYC 351 Stress and Health
  • PSYC 366 Cradle and Grave
  • PSYC 376 Health Psychology
  • PSYC 378 Psychoactive Drugs and Health
  • SOAN 333 Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • SOAN 335 Health, Medicine and Society
  • SOAN 338 Biotechnology in a Global Context
  • SOAN 339 Drugs and Health


 Co-Curricular Activity

Students shall complete one of the following co-curricular activities:

  • On-campus leadership in the planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of events such as the Health Club Blood Drive, National Health Week, or Special Olympics (typically multiple semesters – 35-45 hours total experience)
  • Volunteering at regional health care settings such as Reid Hospital, Wayne County Health, Friends Fellowship, Premier Hospice, and Richmond State Hospital or job shadowing with doctor and nurse practitioners, physical therapists, or optometrists at regional health care settings. (at least 1 semester – 35-45 hours total)
  • Other options as approved by the Medical Humanities point people
  •  These should be supervised and facilitated through the Center for Global Health


Culminating Experience

Students shall complete one of the following:

  • Relevant summer research or projects
  • A medical narrative project
  • Public presentation at the Spring Celebration of Learning
  • Other options as approved by the Medical Humanities point people