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Medical and Health Humanities Program receives National Endowment for the Humanities grant
Posted 04/10/2018 02:32PM

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded a nearly $100,000 NEH Humanities Connections Implementation Grant to Misericordia University's Medical and Health Humanities Program to assist in the revision of the program's curriculum to enable it to address urgent global health issues through expanded experiential learning opportunities in a transdisciplinary curriculum.

Amanda Caleb, Ph.D.

Misericordia University introduced the novel academic program in fall 2017, with eight academic departments collaborating on curricular development. The program offers an interdisciplinary approach for students who are interested in the humanities fields, as well as health care and medicine. Students can choose from Bachelor of Arts degree-level tracks in Medical and Health Humanities, Pre-Law Medical and Health Humanities, and Pre-Doctor of Physical Therapy Medical and Health Humanities, as well as a 15-credit minor that enhances students' educational experiences, particularly those who are majoring in the humanities, and health and social sciences. To learn more about the grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, please visit this link. The announcement about Misericordia appears on page 29.

The revised curriculum will include eight new courses and three revised ones, developed by 13 faculty members from the departments of English, History, Fine Arts, Religious Studies, Psychology, Political Science, Biology, Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Social Work. In addition, community members from the Mercy Center Nursing Unit and Candy's Place: The Center for Cancer Wellness will also support the project.

"The Humanities Connections Grant ($99,985) will support a revised curriculum that challenges students to understand how the Humanities inform and shape concepts of health and illness, and to apply their academic knowledge to practice in a meaningful and lasting manner,'' said Amanda Caleb, Ph.D., associate professor of English and director of the Medical and Health Humanities Program. "Curricular changes will foster meaningful dialogue between the Humanities and health sciences, and will directly benefit Misericordia's intellectual and cultural life.''

The new courses are interdisciplinary in design and instruction, and include Health Disparities; Environmental Health; Race, Gender and Health; Health and Human Rights; Global Health Populations; Modern Epidemics and Pandemics; Introduction to Medical Geography, and Introduction to U.S. Health Policy, as well as revisions to experiential learning opportunities and existing courses that better combine Humanities' skills with career preparation. Together, the new courses and revisions will emphasize a dialogical view of health based on the Humanities' intellectual skills and will focus on inter-relational health.

The restructuring of the program will accomplish three important goals, according to Dr. Caleb. It will integrate a more interdisciplinary approach to the material that advances a productive partnership between the Humanities and other disciplines; enhance the experiential learning component to better prepare students for leadership roles in health practice and research, and diversify the curriculum to encourage program growth and sustainability.

"We view the revised curriculum as not only meeting students where they are and helping them achieve their best selves, but also transforming the concept of health itself,'' Dr. Caleb said, "through Humanities' intellectual skills of critical assessment, reflective learning, collaborative problem-solving, and effective communication.''

The revised curriculum will be ready beginning with the fall semester in 2019.

Overall, the Medical and Health Humanities Program provides students with strategic real-world experiences through fieldwork placements and observational rounds at nonprofit organizations and/or medical and health care facilities. During internships, students apply their academic knowledge to work experiences, while students in an observational rotation attend clinical meetings and participate in on-site observations.

Misericordia's undergraduate degree offers students the flexibility to pursue a number of career paths, including medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, medical anthropology, physical therapy, health care ethics, public health, public policy, health care administration, health education, patient care coordination, health care lobbying, pharmaceutical sales representative, medical history, and more.

Throughout Pennsylvania and across the country, demand for medical and health humanities graduates has increased by 50 percent since January 2014, according to the Education Advisory Board. Two-thirds of graduates from similar programs seek careers in allied health, while the balance pursue admission to clinical professional schools, such as Master of Public Health, and doctoral degrees in medicine, physical therapy and pharmacology, for example.

For more information about the Bachelor of Arts degree in Medical and Health Humanities at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or log on to www.misericordia.edu/medicalhumanities.
Michael and Tina MacDowell Hall


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