Portfolio

Medical Humanities

What are the medical humanities?

I am the Editor in Chief for the BMJ’s Medical Humanities Journal, which presents the international conversation around medicine and its engagement with the humanities, social sciences, health policy, and the public. Humanities are deeply involved in health, and the medical humanities have become one means of demonstrating their importance.  The Medical Humanities offers a place for humanities to engage and reflect critically upon the practices of health, and so also to shape conversation and lead the way for social justice and change. This is a dialogue, a conversation; humanities looking in, not just medicine looking out. Cultural context opens the door to understanding that medicine is more than tech, and patients more than their conditions.

I seek to build international networks in support of the medical humanities, social sciences, and public engagement.

Challenges

For the last decade, headlines have been proclaiming that the humanities are in trouble. The situation afflicts humanities based institutions from universities to museum, who find themselves threatened by a world valuing STEM over humanities education. How do we ensure a future for humanities, the very cornerstone of human experience?  Humanities must inform and shape STEM and Medical systems or we risk a future that reduces the human.

Solutions

To encourage the public to engage with medical history and through it to see their role as stake-holders and forces of change; to focus on the human stories at the center of medicine, encouraging medical-humanities approaches among health practitioners, educators, and facilitators; and to reveal the embedded ethics, from issues of access to the critical problem of missing voices: who among the community have been under-served or overlooked.

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