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CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network Annual Meeting 2024 Report

Our Steering Committee, led by Katie Rhine and Hester Oberman, recently convened a Patio Conversation for the Health and Medical Humanities Network at the CHCI Annual Meeting in Berkeley, California. Below are the minutes that Katie took during the meeting. We hope these are useful for all Network members!

If you've had an "esprit de l'escalier" or if you would like to ask any questions in follow up, please feel free to write to Katieand Hester about the conversation. We are looking forward to the next CHCI Annual Meeting in Berlin in 2025.

Minutes of the Health and Medical Humanities Network at the CHCI Annual Meeting (2024):

The CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network hosted a "patio conversation" at this year's 2024 annual meeting at the University of California, Berkeley. The event was extremely well attended and received. Humanities centers administrators and faculty came with a deep desire to collectively troubleshoot and support each other in new health humanities initiatives. The conversation took its lead from the conference theme ".... at Risk" and considered the challenges of launching health humanities programs, including new curricula, degrees, and collaborations, as well as issues such as "event fatigue." We discussed how to collaborate with health professions schools on curricular initiatives and the structural constraints we face, which have less to do with a lack of interest in the humanities and more to do with issues like calendar misalignment and salary discrepancies. We unpacked humanities faculty members' hesitation to collaborate with scientists and medical faculty on research initiatives, which, among other issues, has to do with concerns such as promotion and tenure expectations (including a tradition of solo research and performance), and a lack of other collaboration incentives.

We considered the questions of both how to attract health career-oriented undergraduate students to the humanities, as well as how health humanities programs and initiatives are arising from student demand. Students, we discussed, are especially motivated by a desire to participate in experiential learning and research initiatives, as well as publication opportunities, when they are available to them, as well as topics like mental health. The earlier students are introduced to the concepts and possibilities the health humanities offer to their career trajectories, the greater their commitment to the field in the long run. Healthcare professionals are also attracted to the field, particularly in their mid-careers after completing their training, when facing burnout, structural inequities, data-fixation, and other hazards. We also shared resources, such as signing up for the CHCI Health and Medical Humanities network and listserv, the NEH Humanities Connections program, and the Health Humanities Consortium toolkit for curriculum/program development. There was strong interest in summer institutes, a panel in the 2025 CHCI Berlin-based conference, and continuing networking opportunities, such as patio conversations.