image of Ayurvedic Man ('Ayurvedic Man'. A gouache with pen and ink painting, c.1800
News Story

Medical Humanities Minor Launched by University

The Georgetown Medical Humanities Program, a cross-campus collaboration among Georgetown College, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative and the Georgetown University Medical Center, is launching a collaborative undergraduate minor in Medical Humanities, Culture and Society starting in Fall 2021. 

Lakshmi Krishnan, M.D., Ph.D. and director of the program, says that “the minor comes at an opportune time for Georgetown and our greater DC community.” 

“The Medical Humanities, Culture and Society minor brings together traditional strengths of our institution — health education, research, scholarship and teaching in the humanities and social sciences,” she explains. “The need for the diverse perspectives in the growing medical humanities field has become more apparent than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

About the Medical Humanities Minor

Lakshmi Krishnan, director of the Medical Humanities Program

Lakshmi Krishnan, director of the Medical Humanities Program

Launched in 2019, the Georgetown Medical Humanities Initiative offers interdisciplinary courses open to undergraduates and medical students, an event series and a research mentorship and fellowship program. Due to the initiative’s success, the minor strives to re-center health and healing in a broader social, cultural and historical context. 

“This minor demonstrates that the rigor of scientific data and the spark of imagination can work together with exciting results,” says Nicoletta Pireddu, director of the Georgetown Humanities Initiative

A unique strength of this program lies in its collaborative nature as well as it’s alignment with the university’s commitment to cura personalis

“Health practitioners cannot treat ‘the whole patient’ without recognizing and valuing their humanity in its many facets,” says Krishnan. “This minor engages faculty and students across the medical center and the arts and sciences, which opens up opportunities for creative, transdisciplinary teaching, research and collaboration.”

Soyica Colbert, dean of Georgetown College, notes that COVID-19 has underscored the need for this work now more than ever.

“As the pandemic has demonstrated, the future of healthcare will depend on our ability to attend to our interconnectedness and common humanity,” she says. “A cross-campus collaboration, the Medical Humanities brings together deep exploration in the sciences with rich humanistic inquiry that foregrounds ethical concerns and fosters dialogue.” 

Students who study the humanities alongside the sciences develop critical and analytical skills, research expertise, intellectual and cultural community and balance in their academic careers. Those who are interested in interdisciplinary areas such as narrative medicine, history of medicine, science and technology studies, public health, medical anthropology and ethics will benefit greatly from the minor’s course offerings. 

“The art of healing and wellness often goes beyond the tremendous advances made in science,” says Ed Healton, executive dean of Georgetown University’s School of Medicine. “Addressing the many facets of a person’s wellbeing – both patient and caregiver — requires creative approaches that are learned from many disciplines including art and literature. Those who experience the human condition through these different perspectives bring a holistic approach to human interactions.”

The interdisciplinary minor in Medical Humanities, Culture and Society will require three core courses and three electives and is designed to provide students with a firm foundation in the field. 

Students across the College, NHS, and SFS will be able to apply to the minor without application. Further information on the minor can be found on the Medical Humanities page. An information session and Q&A will be hosted by the faculty director on Zoom March 25, 2021

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)

Humanities Initiative
Medical Center