Medical Humanities

For the past two decades, the interdisciplinary field of the medical humanities has been part of the portfolio of Center activities. In 1997 the School of Medicine approved an Area of Concentration (AoC) in Medical Humanities under the co-directorship of Bradley Lewis, MD, PhD, and Lisa Parker, PhD. Since then, in recognition of the fact that the medical humanities provides intellectual and emotional resources for physicians to enhance medicine’s traditional curative approach, the Area of Concentration has expanded. Renamed the AoC in Humanities, Ethics, and Palliative Care, it explicitly acknowledges how deeply palliative care clinicians value what the field can offer. 

In 2007, the Center and AoC collaborated with The Andy Warhol Museum to sponsor a series of events exploring the intersections of art, science and ethics in the sometimes dangerous pursuit of perfection, in conjunction with Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, a touring exhibition organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  In 2008, the Center hosted the Pennsylvania Medical Humanities Consortium’s sixth annual meeting SEEING MAKING HEALING: Art, the Arts, and Creativity in Medicine and the Medical Humanities at the Carnegie Museum of Art in conjunction with the Carnegie International 2008. The Consortium returned to Pittsburgh in 2012 for its tenth meeting—Under Construction: Hospitals, Healthcare, and the Medical Humanities—at the recently opened Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, named one of the twenty-five most beautiful hospitals in the world by Healthcare Business & Technology. Conference participants toured the hospital and learned about the process of designing family-friendly spaces like the four-story atrium, Healing Garden, and music therapy room, as well as the child-friendly Pediatric Radiology multisensory rooms designed to enable imaging without sedation. 

As the Center enters its fourth decade, affiliated faculty are expanding medical humanities programming into the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. With support from the Provost’s Year of the Humanities in the University initiative and the Honors College, affiliated faculty launched a lecture series, popularly called Medical Humanities Mondays, and reading group. In development is an undergraduate Certificate in Medical Humanities that would enroll its first students, from across the University, in Fall 2018.