The Medical Humanities Initiative Launches Minor

Georgetown University offers especially fertile terrain for a novel, cross-campus, and critically-minded minor in Medical Humanities, Culture, and Society. This minor brings together traditional strengths of our institution: health education and research and scholarship and teaching in the humanities and social sciences. Furthermore, though medical humanities programs have historically been located in either schools of medicine or arts and sciences faculties, we have the opportunity for a program that is truly cross-cutting given the faculty and student interest and relationships across the College and School of Foreign Service (SFS), School of Nursing and Health Studies (NHS), and School of Medicine (SOM). Unlike institutions where the health and arts and sciences campuses are geographically separated, we also enjoy the collaborative advantages of proximity.

The interdisciplinary minor in Medical Humanities, Culture, and Society requires six total courses (three core courses and three electives), and is designed to provide students with a firm foundation in the field. At the introductory level (MHUM 101) it will familiarize students with broad and fundamental concepts in medical humanities while simultaneously encouraging students to develop their own vertical interests and expertise through electives. These more profound questions will be engaged in the core research sequence which provides training in research methods (MHUM 350) and culminates in a Senior Capstone Seminar (MHUM 401). The Capstone will establish their abilities as scholars in the medical humanities, using their transdisciplinary knowledge to address a unique research question, challenge, or unmet need. Students will be able to use courses from other programs and departments to satisfy the minor’s elective requirements. 

In her 2018 National Endowment for the Humanities Jefferson Lecture, physician and narrative medicine innovator Rita Charon issued a call to arms, “we must rescue the body back from the sciences, who have kidnapped it.” The Medical Humanities minor aims to do exactly this: to put medicine and the human body back in their social, cultural, and humanistic context by dissolving historical and counter-productive boundaries between science and the humanities.

Medical Humanities Initiative