Penn State University | College of Medicine | Research Departments | George T. Harrell Library | Medical Center |  Clinical & Translational Science Institute

Mission

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.

A. 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 understanding of the practice and organization of medicine. Without these perspectives one’s view of medicine might be incomplete, and seen as having no history, no context, no ideals, nor integration with personal and social values and beliefs.

B. As a department, we focus on:

  1. the historical, intellectual, and spiritual bases of contemporary medicine;
  2. the personal challenges of medical practice;
  3. the social and cultural context of medicine as a practice and as a profession;
  4. the expression and embodiment of the issues, experiences, insights, and emotions of the medical world in creative literature and spiritual thought;
  5. the historical, philosophical, and ethical underpinnings of research in the biomedical sciences, and
  6. the ethical, legal, and policy issues of health care–in diagnosis, therapy, research, and the organization of care.

C. In pursuing these fundamentals, we seek to engender:

  1. critical awareness of the values, presuppositions, and methods that under grid medicine and the biological sciences in their research, practices, policies, and organizations;
  2. awareness of ethical issues in medicine and competence in moral reasoning;
  3. empathy for the patient’s experience of illness;
  4. a critical understanding of one’s own capabilities and limitations, and one’s personal goals and motivations;
  5. awareness of social values and beliefs that shape the behaviors and expectations of patients, physicians, and researchers; and
  6. self-perpetuating intellectual curiosity, and the challenging of dogmatic attitudes and postures.

D. Toward fulfilling these obligations, the department will:

  1. focus the traditional disciplines of the humanities upon the issues and questions raised by, within, and about medicine;
  2.  encourage its faculty to pursue both collaborative and independent scholarly activities and research to develop their professional expertise and to participate fully in the community of scholars concerned with the study of health, illness, disease, and society;
  3. interact as colleagues with clinical practitioners and scientists in educational, research, and clinical affairs; and
  4. provide forums for the exchange of ideas about the issues and questions explored in scholarship and research and communicate the results to the university community and to the community at large.

Permanent link to this article: http://www2.med.psu.edu/humanities/mission/