Medical Humanities Network (MedHum)

An Initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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This project aimed at furthering the development of medical humanities as a site and subject of study. In bringing humanistic methodologies to bear on the study of health and illness, its goals were to contribute to the ways medicine and the humanities are taught and practiced; to provide new models for research within and across fields; and to foster collaborations between academics working in humanities departments and academics in the health sciences.The six partnering humanities centers were located at Columbia University (Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and Heyman Center for the Humanities); the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Institute for the Arts and Humanities); King's College London (Centre for the Humanities and Health); the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (WiSER); Dartmouth College (Leslie Center for the Humanities); and The Chinese University of Hong Kong (Research Institute for the Humanities). 

Photograph: Jesse Orrico
The project sought a global, multicultural understanding of the emerging field of Medical Humanities with particular emphasis on questions of aging and evidence. The partners plan not only to share information and results across multiple disciplines but also to approach further research in a multidisciplinary, collaborative way with a view toward creating more nuanced research processes and producing richer, more meaningful results than each discipline alone might generate. Rooted in the inherent multidisciplinarity of the topic and the humanities centers that hosted the project’s work, the variety of research approaches at the individual partner centers involved bringing current understandings and practice into contextual focus through historical research and gathering narratives and interviews analyzed from multiple perspectives. Of key importance to the ultimate success of the project were the summer institutes—in 2015 at Dartmouth, 2016 at King's College, London, and 2017 at the University of Miami—in which the project partners discussed shared readings, research results, and best practices, together designing new approaches to how medicine and the humanities are researched, taught, and practiced.

In the fall of 2015, three of the partners and other CHCI members interested in Medical Humanities joined to create a CHCI member network in order to sustain the relationships they had built around this program and to continue their fruitful collaborations. This CHCI member network created a website, based on the RapidScience platform for research collaboration, to consolidate and share their findings. The website, originally hosted at Columbia University, is now managed under the umbrella of the Health Humanities Lab at Duke University:

 https://chcimedicalhumanities.org/