Betsy Blyler, Artist-in-Residence at Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, works on a mural in the fourth floor central rotunda with hospital visitor Colin Volgemuth. Blyler and Volgemuth are pictured at left, looking leftward at the mural, each holding a paintbrush.

Department of Humanities

Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine

The mission of the Department of Humanities is to contribute to the education of medical students, biomedical research trainees and other health professionals, practicing physicians, and fellow faculty and administrators.

The Penn State College of Medicine Department of Humanities was one of the founding departments when the college opened its doors in 1967. In fact, it was the first such department ever to be included in a College of Medicine in the United States.

As the oldest such department in the country, the faculty in Humanities have long been engaged in a wide variety of innovative educational, scholarly, service and community focused endeavors.

Dan Shapiro, PhD, is Chair of the Department of Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine. He is pictured in a tan suit jacket, blue shirt and dark tie against a blue background.
Dan Shapiro, PhD, Chair, Humanities

The department consists of 15 vibrant joint and core faculty, roughly half of whom are also front-line physicians. The department has expertise in fields as diverse as anthropology, literature and pedagogy. The department also leads the Ethics Consultation Service for the Health Science Center.

We pursue scholarship to advance knowledge, improve teaching, and contribute to our community on local, national and international levels. As teachers and scholars, we look at the world of medicine through the eyes of our respective humanities disciplines; these have included anthropology, history, literature, philosophy, and religion. We describe and analyze aspects of medicine from these disciplinary vantage points to gain insights into, and a more complete understanding of, the practice and organization of medicine.

Dan Shapiro, PhD
Humanities Department Chair
Penn State College of Medicine

Contact us to find out more

More about Humanities @ Penn State

Faculty and staff of the Penn State College of Medicine Department of Humanities are pictured outdoors in November 2016. Two rows of people are standing in front of tan barn doors, and another row is sitting in front on a log wall.
Faculty and staff of the Department of Humanities, November 2016

Humanities Spotlight

Advance Directives Project

Dr. Michael Green and Dr. Benjamin Levi developed an interactive, computer-based decision aid for advance care planning. The online tool allows generates a personalized advance directive that can be saved as a PDF file.

Read more about the Advance Directives Project.

Graphic Narratives

Since 2009, fourth-year medical students at Penn State College of Medicine have created comics as part of a course called “Graphic Storytelling and Medical Narratives.” The course was developed to show students how graphics and text can be used to effectively communicate complex medical narratives, and to help students develop their own stories into graphic depictions. Each student produces a short, original graphic narrative or comic during the class.

Read more about Graphic Narratives.

Latest from Humanities

Humanities Events

See more humanities events.

Recent Publications