Humanities Institute

About

The Humanities Institute is currently exploring how a partnership between medical and humanities education can work to identify barriers to building a more caring society and ways we can break down those barriers through humanistic support for those in the caring professions. The humanities and humanistic social sciences offer to medical practitioners expertise in analyzing social relationships, articulating values, and practicing criticism as a form of practicing well-being. The Humanities Institute hopes to address, through our various initiatives, broad philosophical questions that provide a framework for practices of care, questions such as: “What is well-being?” “What lives matter?” “What is quality of life?” “What is a good death?” “What is a caring society?” 

The Humanities Institute aims to break down the divides between theory and practice, campus and community, and research and service by investigating and making visible the vital relationship between the humanities, on the one hand, and medicine, health and well-being, on the other hand. The goal of our Medical Humanities initiatives is, therefore, to establish a community of humanities scholars and medical professionals committed to defining the future of the Medical Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin through developing new paradigms and philosophies of care that address, for example, cultural and economic diversity and issues of equal access to health care and other resources for well-being, and through expanding existing health partnerships between the Humanities Institute and other institutions and organizations both within and outside of campus that can work to affect new practices and paradigms of care. 


The Humanities Institute Welcomes Dell Medical School

The Humanities Institute’s current organizing theme for our 2016-2018 Distinguished Lecture Series and Faculty Fellows Seminar is “Health, Well-Being, Healing,” which we selected to celebrate the recent opening of the Dell Medical School. Dell seeks to create a “vital, inclusive health ecosystem” through instituting multi-disciplinary care and redesigning the health environment to better serve society. This mission is attuned to that of the University to transform lives for the benefit of society, and makes Dell well-suited for a partnership with the Humanities Institute, the mission of which is to build civic and intellectual community across disciplines and other divisions.

The opening of the Dell Medical School in the summer of 2016 is an historic moment for the University of Texas and presents a critical opportunity, while Dell is still a young institution, to develop a culture of collaboration between professional caregivers and the humanities on campus. Dell faculty and staff are working to redefine the purpose of medical education, while the purpose of a humanities education is a topic of national discussion. Our Medical Humanities Initiatives seek to facilitate dialogue that takes this shared process of redefinition as its starting point. The first result of this collaboration was the Humanities Institute's co-sponsorship of O N E E V E R Y O N E: A Conversation with Ann Hamilton and Hamilton's discussing her work and the influences on her work at our Faculty Fellows Seminar on the theme of "Health, Well-Being, Healing." We are continuing our collaboration with Dell Medical School graduate students through our new Working Group, "Medical Humanities: Close Reading, Expressive Writing," and have co-sponsored a series of public events at UT with Rafael Campo, a poet, essayist, and physician

In addition, the Humanities Institute is working with faculty at Dell on the Bridging Barriers research initiative through the Office of the Vice President of Research. Our proposal, "Narratives, Paradigms, and Practices of Care: Medicine in the Humanities" has been grouped into two Core Themes: "An Adaptive Intelligent Care System" and "A Better Longer Life Experience." 


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

The Humanities Institute has established the Medical Humanities Pop-Up Institute, which will convene scholars affiliated with the Humanities Institute and the Dell Medical School to conduct an interdisciplinary exploration of the impact of humanistic approaches to medicine on patients and healthcare workers. For more information, please visit its webpage


Collaborations with Health Programs on Campus

The Humanities Institute has also collaborated with a number of departments and colleges at the University of Texas at Austin on medical and health humanities programs and publics events, including the Social Work (Health Affairs), Natural SciencesPublic HealthUT Environmental Clinic, and Pharmacy. Please visit our Medical Humanities Events page and our related programs pages below for more information on these collaborations.


Related Programs

Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series 2016-2018

Cline Visiting Centennial Professorship 2016-2017

Faculty Fellows Seminar

Medical Humanities: Close Reading, Expressive Writing


Health, Well-Being, Healing

Priscilla Wald

The Humanities Institute hosted Priscilla Wald as the first of our Spring 2017 Distinguished Visiting Lecturers in "Health, Well-Being, Healing." Wald delivered a public lecture, "Cells, Genes, Stories: HeLa's Journey from Labs to Literature," and led our Faculty Fellows Seminar on her current research. 

Contagious by Priscilla Wald

Wald is author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative, published by Duke University Press in 2008.


Related Programs

Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series 2016-2018

Cline Visiting Centennial Professorship 2016-2017

Faculty Fellows Seminar

Medical Humanities: Close Reading, Expressive Writing