Humanities Institute

Health and Humanities: Narrative Medicine, Equity and Diversity, and Community Practice

PUI logoThe Health and Humanities Pop-Up Institute convened scholars affiliated with nine UT schools and colleges as well as community health practitioners in May 2018. The purpose of the PUI was to conduct an interdisciplinary exploration of humanistic approaches to medicine and health; to consider how best to measure the objective outcomes of humanistic approaches for patients, practitioners, and communities; and to foster an innovative interdisciplinary program in the health humanities at the University of Texas at Austin. Public lectures and Q&As were held on May 9 (physician Vanessa Grubbs on health disparities), May 16 (psychologist James Pennebaker on expressive writing and health), and May 21 (physician Annie Brewster on storytelling and health). The PUI concluded on May 30 with a symposium and a keynote lecture (physician Jonathan Metzl on cultural and structural competence). Lectures and the symposium were free and open to the public. More information on the lectures and symposium may be found here.

The three dozen participants in the Institute participated in seminars and workshops throughout May. These were organized around three major fields of inquiry, including:

  • Narrative Medicine/Narratives of Medicine, exploring the crucial significance of stories, storytelling, and other forms of expressive communication in how people experience illness and healing, and thus in the provision of effective care.
  • Humanistic Approaches to Health Equity and Justice, investigating how humanities training can further medical inquiry into health disparities, increase cultural and structural competency, and integrate non-Western and biomedical practices of care.
  • Community Practice, addressing how the medical humanities can foster partnerships among researchers, practitioners, artists, and community organizations in order to develop a more healthy and caring society.

Throughout May, Institute participants convened in intensive seminars and workshops. The Institute also features a publicly accessible resource website hosted by the University of Texas Libraries.

The Health & Humanities Pop-Up Institute was a collaboration between the Office of the Vice President of Research and the Humanities Institute at the University of Texas at Austin through the following endowments: the Holloway Centennial Lectureship, the Hoffman Centennial Lectureship, and the Kidd Centennial Lectureship. Additional support came from the College of Liberal Arts, the Dell Medical School, and the Department of English.