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Medical Humanities Comes To Class Fall 2022

New Program Concentration In The College of Humanities & Social Sciences


By Sheryl E. Taylor

Arriving to a UHD classroom this fall is a new concentration in the College of Humanities & Social Sciences Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities.

The Medical Humanities concentration is an interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary concentration that will have courses from the natural sciences, humanities, health sciences, social sciences, and communication studies.

The core courses of this program include, “Introduction to Medical Humanities,” “Cultural Criticism,” three hours in biomedical ethics or ethics for healthcare professionals, six to eight hours in a foreign language, and nine hours in medical terminology, statistics, and medical writing. These core courses will be complemented by classes in anatomy/physiology and biology.

This program concentration is poised to be of great significance, especially in the current climate of COVID-19. Per the documentationMedical Humanities submitted to the University Curriculum Committee for approval, “the current medical emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a keen focus on the need for a humanistic response and vision to the crisis. Now, more than ever, the reaction to this great threat must be crafted with careful and deliberate reflection based on human and humanistic principles that are meant to benefit everyone and not just a select few. This new concentration will help students approach contagion, illness, and disease and their effects on the global and local communities with a firm grounding in the insights that the humanities offer because they will be informed well about the human condition, suffering, personhood, and our relationship to ever-evolving medical and health technologies.”

As a result of this degree program, students can pursue the following career outcomes in the global workforce:

  • Clinical Research
  • Community Health
  • Consulting
  • Environmental Law and Policy
  • Global Healthcare
  • Health Education
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Healthcare Law
  • Insurance
  • Medical Research
  • Nonprofit Facilitator
  • Pharmacy Manager
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health Service
  • Research Technician
  • Wellness Management
  • Women’s Healthcare

“While not every student will pursue a career in medicine or affiliated health professions, we all, at some point or another, will be involved in some manner with healthcare – as a practitioner or consumer of healthcare or both,” said Dr. Edmund Cueva, Professor of Classics & Humanities. This degree is meant to investigate how humans experience and interpret illness, disease, health, and disability via art, music, history, literature, religion, architecture, philosophy, and the natural and social sciences. Indeed, the aim is to examine how culture, history, and societies react to and intersect with the parameters imposed by ancient and modern medicine. Medical Humanities is relevant and important to everyone.”

A March 2020 report from the School of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University noted that this new degree aligns well with the “efforts of health professions schools to recruit students who are patient-centered, ethically intelligent, skilled in communication, and competent with diverse populations.”

Cueva also pointed out, “The University has this important clause in its mission statement: ‘the University reflects the diversity of the Greater Houston Area, and through its academic programs, engages with the community to address the needs and advance the development of the region.’”  

About the University of Houston-Downtown

The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD)—the second-largest university in Houston—has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974.

As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students; boasts more than 61,000 alumni and offers 45 bachelor’s, nine master’s degree programs and 16 fully online programs within five colleges (Marilyn Davies College of Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Public Service; Sciences & Technology; and University College).

For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs.

UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.