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Health and Medical Humanities Minor

Health and Medical Humanities Minor

The Health and Medical Humanities (HMH) Minor teaches students how to use the skills and interpretive methods of the humanities, social sciences, and arts to consider topics related to human health and medicine through an interdisciplinary series of courses.

Fundamental to the study of the Health and Medical Humanities is the is the idea that studying history, sociology, literature, philosophy, and the arts may allow us to gain insight into aspects of life such as health, illness, disability, disease, and death—as well as the ways that medicine intervenes in our embodied lives. 


Why HMH?

The Health and Medical Humanities minor can enhance your coursework, your future careers, and your graduate school applications. In particular, the HMH minor will:

  • allow pre-med, nursing, and public health students, as well as students in other programs related to medicine, to gain new insight into their future professions and work towards more meaningful, more effective, and more successful careers
  • allow those in the humanities and social sciences to develop interdisciplinary skills to enhance their major coursework and help them envision new career paths in such fields as professional writing, non-profit fundraising, and communications
  • provide a valuable credential for students applying to medical school and other graduate programs in the medical sciences, as well as students applying for graduate work in interdisciplinary fields
  • provide opportunities for all HMH students to gain insight into their experiences as people who will inevitably experience their own and loved ones’ illnesses, disabilities, and medical treatment

What will I learn?

While working towards the HMH minor, students will consider, for example: 

  • how literature allows us insight into experiences of disability, bodily suffering, and death, and how the study of narrative can enable healthcare professionals to more effectively communicate with patients
  • how the history of medicine affords insight into contemporary medical practices and ethics, and can also allow medical professionals and medical patients to be more informed in imagining paths forward
  • how sociology and other social sciences shed light on the relationship between social structures and healthcare access, as well as the ways that such identity factors as race, class, disability, gender, and sexuality can impact individual doctor-patient relationships, as well as systemic issues in healthcare
  • how the arts can be used in therapeutic settings, and how creative expression can contribute to individual and collective wellbeing
  • how philosophy can raise important questions about the nature of wellbeing, and how bioethics can raise important questions about healthcare professions, interactions, structures, and systems

Faculty Affiliates


Do you have a question about the Health and Medical Humanities minor? Click above to get the contact information for the minor coordinator.


Students will take 9 hours of required core courses on the Health and Medical Humanities, as well as 9 hours of related elective courses. 

Required Courses (9 hours)

  • IDS 370 (Introduction to Health and Medical Humanities)
  • IDS 371 (Topics in Health and Medical Humanities; if more than three credits are earned, the additional hours will count towards elective hours)
  • PHI 356 (Ethics), PHI 452 (Health Care Ethics), or PHI 435 (Research Ethics)

Elective Courses (9 hours)

no more than two classes from any one prefix category

  • ANT 442 (Medical Anthropology)
  • CMS 440 (Health Communication)
  • ENG 221, 321, 421 (Fiction Writing I, II, III)
  • ENG 222, 322, 422 (Poetry Writing I, II, III)
  • ENG 223 (Creative Writing I: Mixed Genre)
  • HIS 422 (History of Medicine)
  • IDS 371 (Topics in Health and Medical Humanities)*
  • PHI 316 (Philosophy of Science)
  • PHI 356 (Ethics)*
  • PHI 435 (Research Ethics)*
  • PHI 452 (Health Care Ethics)*
  • REL 424 (Religion and Healing)
  • SOC 312 (Sociology of Mental Health and Illness) 
  • SOC 423 (Sociology of Health)

* PHI 356, 435, and 452 can only count as electives if they are not used above to fulfill the Ethics requirement in “Required Courses”; IDS 371 can count towards a student’s elective hours only if the student takes more than the 3 hours of IDS 371 that are required 

Several upper-level survey and special topics courses may also count towards the minor if their content in the given semester is based on topics related to the Health and Medical Humanities. These include courses offered through the English, History, Criminal Justice, Communication Studies, and Sociology programs. These courses may be cross-listed with IDS 371. Please consult the Health and Medical Humanities program director to see about anticipated future course offerings in these and other fields.

Course Descriptions


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