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Medical Humanities Initiative Partners with Georgetown Humanities to Bring Harriet Washington to the Hilltop

On February 10, the Medical Humanities Initiative, in collaboration with the Georgetown Humanities Initiative and Howard University, hosted the lecture “A Distant Mirror: Seeing Medical History and Race Through the Lens of U.S. Culture,” featuring Harriet Washington, National Book Critics’ Circle award-winning author of Medical Apartheid. Harriet Washington has been a fellow in medical ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University, and the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. She also authored Infectious Madness, Deadly Monopolies.

About Medical Humanities Initiative

Georgetown College and the Georgetown School of Medicine are in the process of developing a cross-campus, collaborative undergraduate major in Medical Humanities. The major seeks to bring together the fields of medicine and humanities (literature, history, philosophy, ethics), arts (film, theater, dance, visual arts, literature), and social sciences (sociology, anthropology, psychology, cultural studies) in order to establish a program of study that situates medicine in its social, cultural, and historical contexts, and emphasizes the tools of the humanities which are traditionally left out of STEM disciplines. By drawing diverse undergraduate students together with faculty from both campuses, this major will expand the undergraduate curriculum at Georgetown and break down disciplinary boundaries.

In Spring 2020, three courses in the medical humanities were offered by instructors in the College and School of Medicine: Introduction to Medical Humanities: Medicine & Mystery (IDST 131), Medical Non-Fiction & Journalism (IDST 132), and Living & Dying (133). These courses were popular and rapidly over-subscribed, and involved co-teaching between humanities and medical faculty, as well as synergistic classrooms with undergraduates and medical students.

In Fall 2020, a medical humanities course on Pandemics: Texts and Contexts (IDST 135, cross-listed in ENGL and Comp Lit), will be offered.

Questions about the medical humanities should be directed to Lakshmi Krishnan.

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