Course Descriptions

This revised Medical and Health Humanities curriculum was made possible through a Humanities Connections Implementation Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Click here to view the Medical and Health Humanities required and elective course descriptions.

Medical and Health Humanities Required Courses

Course prefix, number, and title


MHH Core

● BIO 211: Anatomy & Physiology I

● BIO 212: Anatomy & Physiology II

● MHH 201: Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities

● MHH 301: Narrative Medicine

● MHH 460: Fieldwork OR MHH 465: Internship

● PHL 310: Medical Ethics

● MHH 450: Senior Thesis








Humanities and Medicine (6 credits)

● ENG 305: Literature and Medicine

● HIS 342: History of Medicine and Health

● PHL 315: Philosophy of Medicine




Critical Health Studies (6 credits)

● MHH 310: Health Disparities

● MHH 312: Health and Human Rights

● MHH 314: Environmental Health

● MHH 316: Race, Gender, and Health





Global Health Studies (3 credits)

● MHH 330: Global Health Populations

● MHH 332: Medical Geography

● MHH 334: Modern Epidemics and Pandemics




MHH Electives (9 credits). At least two courses must be at the 300+ level

● ADC 340A: Chemical Additions and Dependency

● ENG 225: Disability in Literature

● FA 213: Themes in Medical Humanities

● FA 361: Music and the Mind

● FA 374: Anatomical Drawing

● HIS 165: The History of Human Rights

● HP 220: American Sign Language

● MHH 385: Special Topics in Medical and Health Humanities

● MHH 380: Independent Study

● PHL 202: Environmental Philosophy

● PHL 210: Philosophy of Person

● POL 330: Urban Policy: Disadvantaged Youth

● POL 404: US Health Care Policy (pending approval in the GLNS proposal)

● PSY 277: Adult Development and Aging

● PSY 307: Health Psychology

● PSY 310: Gender Studies

● RLS 117: Christian Health Care Ethics

● RLS 215: Death and Dying

● SWK 320: Trauma and Resiliency

● Students may take additional courses from the Humanities and Medicine, Critical Health Studies, and/or Global Health banks if they are not taken as a required course.

Note: Students may count an elective course toward both the major and core curriculum requirements.

All 3-credit course

Medical and Health Humanities Required Course Descriptions

BIO 211/BIO 212: Anatomy and Physiology I and II

Involve detailed study of the structure and same function of the human body. Emphasis on physiology phenomena and concepts. Lecture: 3 hours. Laboratory: 2 hours. Prereq: BIO 211 for BIO 212,or permission from instructor

MHH 201: Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities

Introduction to Medical and Health Humanities introduces students to primary concepts and issues within the field of Medical and Health Humanities. Students will look at concepts of health and illness, as viewed from the perspective of the patient, the practitioner, and the public, and through the lens of humanistic study including history, philosophy, religion, literature, and the arts. Students will be exposed to a broad understanding of how different disciplines approach issues in the medical and health fields, including concepts regarding patient autonomy, human dignity, and justice.

MHH 301: Health Disparities

Students will critically examine health disparities between and within nations, using the United States as a case study. Using sociological texts alongside literary works, students will explore gaps in health outcomes as they relate to race/ethnicity, social class, gender, disability, nationality, and migration and immigration status. Determinants of health as defined by the World Health Organization will provide students with a foundation for a better understanding of the systems that shape and influence the conditions of daily life.

MHH 460: Fieldwork

Students will be exposed to team-based medicine and the application of medical and health humanities concepts in an on-site observation rotation at a local hospital. Students will participate in an observation rotation in an approved division and attend ethics meetings. Placements will be made at the program director’s discretion. Note: a small insurance fee will be assessed.

MHH 465: Internship

Students will be exposed to medical and health humanities practices and apply academic knowledge to work experience at a medical or health organization, nonprofit, or government organization. Placements will be made at the program director’s discretion.

PHL 310: Medical Ethics

Explores the ethical questions related to modern science and the health professions. Topics such as abortion, human experimentation, genetic engineering, patient-rights, and the delivery of health care are analyzed. Prereq: PHL core

MHH 450: Senior Thesis

Students will write an independently-chosen critical thesis under the careful supervision of a faculty member teaching in the MHH program. Students will master all the phases of the research process, including the gathering of research from traditional and electronic bibliographical sources, standard systems of bibliographical citation, and organization of a developed and original argument. Must be taken if MHH 4xx: Senior Seminar is not chosen.

ENG 305: Literature and Medicine

Explores the intersection between literature and medicine in three key arenas: the patient, the practitioner, and the public. The course focuses on issues of social justice and human dignity and considers how literature represents, engages with, and challenges medical language, narrative, and diagnosis. Prereq: ENG core

HIS 342: History of Medicine and Health

Provides an overview of developments in Western medical science and health care from antiquity to the present. Themes covered include: the evolution and transmission of medical knowledge, the impact of epidemic disease, the patient experience, and role of the practitioner in society. Students in History of Medicine and Health will explore the links between medicine and health and their cultural, social, political, and intellectual contexts. Prereq: HIS core

PHL 315: Philosophy of Medicine

Examines the philosophical foundations of various models of the practice of medicine, focusing on philosophical conceptions of human health and well-being. The emphasis of the course is on understanding medicine within a human and humane context. This approach is occasioned by the prevalence of what is known as the biomedical model, a model that sees the human being primarily as a biological manifestation, emphasizing cure over care and healing. This course examines the epistemological, metaphysical, social and ethical frameworks of this model as set against a variety of alternative humanistic models and their respective philosophical underpinnings, from the biopsychosocial model to the narrative model. Prereq: PHL core

MHH 312: Health and Human Rights

Students will explore issues that arise at the intersection of health care and human rights. The provision and protection of basic human rights is the surest way to improve the overall health of vulnerable populations. Public health problems such as infant mortality, widespread preventable illness, and malnutrition frequently occur among people who suffer from violations of their basic human rights. Human rights establish basic standards for the provision of health care and ethical norms for the treatment of patients. Topics include: human rights and public health, informed consent, and access to health care for vulnerable persons.

MHH 314: Environmental Health

Focusing on both domestic and global environmental health, students will examine biological, socio-economic, and cultural issues in the intersection between environmental factors and human health. Through analyses of case studies and literary depictions of environmental factors in cultural products, disease causation, and public health, students will evaluate how different individuals and communities engage with the challenges of environmental health concerns ranging from microbial and chemical contamination of water and air to industrialization and unplanned urbanization.

MHH 316: Race, Gender, and Health

Using a biopsychosocial model of health, students will explore constructions of and relationships between race and gender and how such constructions have shaped health care and health policies. Students will examine the historical foundations of race and gender (including national politics about slavery and race, eugenics policies and practices, nineteenth-century gynecology, mental health, sexuality, and gender identity), evaluating how these foundations have impacted contemporary health care.

MHH 330: Global Health Populations

Students will consider health care practices in a global setting and with an eye towards social, political and economic impacts and through the lens of inter-relational health. Using a transdisciplinary perspective, students will examine various global populations, in particular those populations in under-resourced regions, in light of their health care needs – both communal and individual – national health policies, the impact on national and international communities, and the role of cultural memory.

MHH 332: Medical Geography

This course will introduce students to methodological and theoretical concerns of geography and how they can be applied to the study of health and health care. Students will examine how our natural and built environments impact our health and access to health care and the spatial dimension of national and global health disparities. Students will evaluate how Geographic Information Systems are used to address the concerns of health professionals.

MHH 334: Modern Epidemics and Pandemics

Students will focus on the cultural, economic, and political impact of epidemics and pandemics in the modern period by exploring specific outbreaks, including (but not limited to) the Plague, the nineteenth-century cholera epidemic, the 1918 influenza pandemic, and HIV/AIDS. These case studies will help students understand epidemics and pandemics in relation to trade, health and economic policies, and public perceptions in both their historical contexts and comparatively.

MHH 350: Fieldwork, 1-6 credits

Students will choose either an internship with a medical/health non-profit or an observational rotation at a medical/health facility. For the internship option, students will apply academic knowledge to work experience; for the observation rotation, students will attend clinical meetings and participate in on-site observations. Students will also attend regular class meetings with the instructor.

MHH 401: Senior Seminar

Students engage in a semester-long research project that integrates concepts from the MHH program and related fieldwork experiences as they relate to a chosen topic(s). Students will be exposed to advanced concepts in Medical and Health Humanities. Texts will vary depending on instructor. Must be taken if MHH 4xx: Senior Thesis is not chosen.

Elective Course Descriptions

ENG 225: Disability in Literature

Designed to explore literary texts and films from across the globe that address disabilities of various kinds (physical, mental, social). Some of the questions we shall consider include: how has the definition of “disability” shifted in recent years? What, then, is “normal”? Is the very term “disability” problematic? How does disability further impact other social constructs such as race, gender and socio-economic status? In order to investigate these issues, we shall begin the course with the lexicon of disability and subsequently approach texts from the following perspectives: patient perspective; family perspective; disability due to trauma (including war/political strife); and resiliency and self-efficacy

FA 213: Themes in Medical Humanities

An interdisciplinary field that attempts to explore, and provide insight into: the human condition, personal identity, ethical and moral responsibilities, as well as individual and collective rights related to personhood. This will be observed, analyzed and applied through the specific lens of the Fine Arts, and how the various disciplines within it are synthesized with medicine and healthcare.

FA 361: Music and the Mind

Explores the cognitive foundations of music through the intersection of psychology and music. We will examine the full range of physical, psychophysical, and cognitive mechanisms that lead to musical experience. This survey begins with the physics of musical instruments and the physical qualities of musical pitch. Key topics include: the psychophysics of hearing; perceptual organization; memory; and biological responses to music. Finally, we examine the structures in working memory that allow individual pitch events to be organized into musical expressions. Along the way, we will look at the general principles that govern the structure of music and the ways in which music psychology influences our health and society. Prereq: FA 203 or FA 204.

FA 374: Anatomical Drawing

Students will learn to master the shapes and lines of the body, including muscles and bone structure. Movement, shape, speed line and mass will be reviewed and incorporated into the work in an attempt to redefine the human body as a much-needed subject of art making. Students will be required to participate actively in conceptualization and aesthetic critiques as well as discussions on technical issues. The class intends to create in the students a mature aesthetic vocabulary. Readings and other resources of study will be distributed, which will help foster a critical mind as well as a resource of intellectual, art making. Prereq: FA 103

PSY 277/GER 277: Adult Development and Aging

This course will provide an overview of adult development from early adulthood through death and will focus on both normative changes and individual differences. Topics to be discussed include: biological changes, changes in health and health habits, cognitive and intellectual changes, sex roles and family roles, work and work roles, development of relationships, changes in personality and motives, mental health and psychopathology, and death and dying. Developmental theories, models, and research methods will also be discussed. Prereq: PSY 123

HIS 165: The History of Human Rights

A study of the origin and development of the idea of human rights from the Enlightenment to the present with emphasis on the French Revolution, feminism, liberalism, decolonization, and contemporary human rights issues.

HP 220: American Sign Language

Designed to introduce the basic skills of American Sign Language (ASL) to enhance communication with the deaf community. Students will develop skills in both implementing and interpreting the ASL alphabet, basic signs, vocabulary and components of grammar.

MHH 385: Special Topics in Medical and Health Humanities

An intensive study of an issue or topic in Medical and Health Humanities. Topics determined by the instructor. Can be taught twice as the same theme. Prereq: MHH 201

MHH 380: Independent Study

A special investigate of a selected issue in Medical and Health Humanities, as determined by the student and director of the independent study. Prereq: MHH 201; MHH majors only.

PHL 202: Environmental Philosophy

A survey of the fundamental principles and traditions underlying what we call today “environmental philosophy.” Students will explore the roots of our contemporary ideas about nature and ecology, animal rights, whether or not nature has intrinsic or merely instrumental value, ecofeminism, “deep” ecology, non-western perspectives on the environment, population, hunger, global warming and the Gaia theory that the planet is a living organism. Prereq: PHL 100

PHL 210: Philosophy of Person

A dominantly phenomenological approach to analyzing the existential structures that constitute a person. Exploration of the possibilities for personal growth and evaluation of the various social forces that limit these possibilities. Prereq: PHL 100

PSY 310: Gender Studies

Gender studies on gender issues from the perspective of different disciplines. Specific topics may include: biological, social, and cultural determinants of gender differences, gender roles in the family, philosophical views of men and women, gender in the classroom, gender issues in the workplace, gender issues in the health professions, and men, women and power. Prereq: PSY 123

RLS 117: Christian Health Care Ethics

Christian Health Care Ethics will examine health care ethics primarily within a Christian theological context. The course will cover the role of ethics in health care and the process of moral decision making in a health care setting. This includes analysis of a variety of moral problems and dilemmas in health care, including but not limited to abortion, critical care at the beginning and end of life, reproductive technology, research issues, and the health care system itself.

RLS 215: Death and Dying

Provides an overview of the topics of death and dying. Specifically, in this course students will examine the topic of death as a universal for cross-cultural analysis and as a site of contested meaning in American society. Among the themes dealt with in this course are the beliefs regarding death held by the world's major religions, the death rituals of representative global societies, the evolution of attitudes toward death and the afterlife in western society, the process of grieving, ethical concerns surrounding the topics of death and dying, and the manner in which hospitals shape the end of life.

ADC 340A/SWK 340A: Chemical Additions and Dependency

An introduction to the diagnosis and treatment of alcoholism. Emphasis is placed on contemporary beliefs and attitudes toward alcohol, effects upon the family and implications for treatment.

SWK 320: Trauma and Resiliency

Trauma and Resiliency presents the development of trauma theory and resiliency perspectives within the field of social work. The approach to the provision of social work practice to address Post Traumatic and other traumatic sequelae of clients is based upon most current principles of trauma theory. This course is an introduction to these concepts and is not intended to be used as a treatment course.

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