Humanities at Penn State College of Medicine
The mission of the Department of Humanities is to advance humanism in medicine and society.
When Penn State College of Medicine opened its doors in 1967, the Department of Humanities was one of its founding departments. In fact, it was the first Department of Humanities ever to be included in a college of medicine in the United States.
Faculty members have backgrounds in anthropology, literature, pedagogy, clinical medicine, philosophy, ethics, cultural studies, women’s and gender studies, psychology and nursing.
Collectively, we pursue scholarship to advance knowledge, improve teaching, and contribute to our community on local, national, and international levels.
Our research topics include graphic medicine; vaccination controversy; child abuse; end-of-life decision making; ethical, legal and social implications of genomic research; nursing and nurse relationships; Alzheimer’s and dementia care and experience; professional identity formation among medical students; and race and social justice, among other topics. We also reach into the health care setting to improve patient and provider experience with programs focusing on compassion and empathy, often using arts and music.
In the wake of protests against the murder of George Floyd in summer 2020, we are rededicating ourselves to antiracist teaching and research. The humanities offer rich disciplinary perspectives on the history of racial injustice in the United States, ongoing discriminatory practices faced by people of color in health care and the joyful and painful artistic expressions of exploited peoples. Together, we commit to challenging racist structures in medicine and society.
The Department of Humanities is all around you. Join us as we work to advance humanism in medicine and society.
Bernice L. Hausman, PhD
Humanities Department Chair
Penn State College of Medicine
More about Humanities @ Penn State
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.
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.