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Humanities, Social Science and Education -The Human Side of Medicine Thematic Area


We focus on human experience and an examination of the meaning and values associated with health, illness and healing. This content area deals not only with descriptive questions - what is the case - but also with normative questions - what should be the case? There are many disciplines represented in the humanities: ethics / law / art / literature / history / philosophy /religious studies. The following disciplines are included in the social sciences: medical anthropology / sociology / psychology / health policy / education.

You may be more familiar with the research methodologies in the social sciences. They can range from interviews with key informants and focus groups, to observation of behaviors with validated tools, to survey questionnaires about personal or social attitudes and behaviors. They may also include the analysis of current data bases of health related attitudes and behaviors. Scholarship in education can include the development and evaluation of curricula; applying theories of feedback to new methods to help clinicians teach at the bedside; or investigating the relationship between teaching behaviors and student learning.

Scholarship in the humanities may be more unfamiliar. Each discipline has its own literature and critical methodologies. One core activity is the critical reading and interpretation of texts and the construction of arguments to support claims. Common to all is the need to formulate good questions, choose the appropriate critical methodology, investigate the subject thoroughly, analyze carefully, and report clearly.