Humanities Institute

About Humanities, Health and Medicine


The trans-disciplinary field of Health and Medical Humanities explores and promotes relationships among the arts and humanities on the one hand and health and health care on the other. The substance, methods and passions of the humanities have the potential to transform health care for all by enhancing human connections, deepening the capacity for empathy, and improving our understanding of the cultural and social contexts in which health, illness, and care occur. At the same time, focusing on health and health care can reinvigorate and reveal new relevance for humanities scholarship and teaching in a society increasingly dominated by STEM fields.

Our Health Humanities initiatives have convened researchers, educators, and students from colleges and schools across campus to explore the crucial significance of stories and storytelling, to investigate how humanities training can advance inquiries into health disparities, and to address the roles played by racism and ableism, among other forms of discrimination, in health care. We have also sought to foster partnerships among researchers, practitioners, artists, and community organizations. 

The Humanities Institute has established a community of humanities scholars and medical professionals committed to the Health Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. Collaborators come from across the College of Liberal Arts, aw well as from the Dell Medical School, the Steve Hicks School of Social Work, the College of Natural Sciences, the College of Communication, the College of Pharmacy, the School of Nursing, the Bridging Disciplines Program in the College of Undergraduate Studies, Planet Texas 2050, the Center for Health and Social Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and other departments, colleges, and researchers on interdisciplinary events, workshops, and programs. For more information on these collaborations, please visit our Health Humanities Events page and our related programs pages.

Our current Health Humanities programming emerged from several initiatives and collaborations. Our 2018-2018 Faculty Fellows seminar addressed the theme of "Health, Well-Being, and Healing." In Spring of 2018, we brought together scholars and communty health practicioners for a Health & Humanities Pop-Up Institute. The Pop-Up Institute gave birth to the Health Humanities Research Seminar. We sponsored "Narrative Medicine: Close Reading, Expressive Writing," a workshop for Dell Medical Students led by Associate Director Phil Barrish. Dr. Barrish and several of our faculty affiliates are part of the faculty panel that supports the Bridging Disciplines program, "Patients, Practicioners & Cultures of Care," directed at undergraduates. We also co-sponsor events that bring renowned visual and literary artists who engage with the topics of health, care, and well-being. Our most recent initiative is a new Master or Arts Degree in Humanities, Health, and Medicine.




Health & Humanities Team

Health Humanities Advisory Board 

Dr. Phillip Barrish, Associate Director for Health & Humanities

Dr. Phillip Barrish






Dr. Barrish oversees Health Humanities programming at the Humanities Institute, directs the Master’s program in Humanities, Health, and Medicine, and teaches Health Humanities courses to undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. You can read his full bio here.

Dr. Pauline Strong, Director of the Humanities Institute






Dr. Strong regularly teaches a class called Health and Culture and is heavily involved in the Humanities Institute’s Health Humanities programming. You can read her full bio here.

Looking for more upcoming Health Humanities events and lectures? Check the Health Humanities Events Page

Related Programs

Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series 2016-2018

Cline Visiting Centennial Professorship 2016-2017


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  • Humanities Institute

    University of Texas at Austin
    Office Address: SAC 4.138
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712