The Health Humanities (also called the Medical Humanities) can be defined as a sustained interdisciplinary/inter-professional enquiry into aspects of medical practice, education and research expressly concerned with the HUMAN SIDE of medicine and healthcare.
At the University of Toronto, for the last 10 years, the Health, Arts and Humanities program has encouraged ongoing dialogue, exchange, research and collaboration among several fields of study and practice:
- biomedicine (with representation from ALL healthcare disciplines)
- philosophy, theology and bio-ethics
- history of medicine and healthcare
- the arts (including music, theatre, dance, cinema, visual arts and graphic medicine)
- literary studies (including poetry, reflective and creative writing, close reading of literary texts, critical theory)
All of our courses, lectures and workshops have been designed to help learners and practitioners to deepen their reflective capacity, narrative competence, critical thinking, visual literacy and personal/professional renewal through engagement with the arts.
We are an EDU-D educational Program with extensive affiliations across the university campus and within the arts and scholarly communities. We founded the first national Creating Space Conference in medical humanities and the arts in health professional education in Canada in 2010 and facilitated the creation of the Canadian Association For Health Humanities (www.cahh.ca) in 2019.
We help curate humanities teaching at the medical school, for residents, fellows and postgraduate learners and practitioners working in the community.
Our faculty include clinicians from all health disciplines, visual and performing artists and humanities scholars. We are fortunate to have four Artists-In-Residence and three Specialists in Arts-Based Education.
We encourage practitioners, educators and learners to reflect upon:
WHO they are as unique individuals with strengths and personal values — and also blind spots, privileges, biases and human vulnerabilities. How are they taking care of themselves, achieving life balance and fostering creativity, resilience and renewal? What brings them a sense of pleasure and purpose?
WHAT they are in their role as health professionals in contemporary society. This includes examining curricula (intentional and hidden) and notions of professionalism, accountability and ethical behaviour.
WHERE they are, in terms of community context, access and healthcare needs, population health, ecological environment, care of marginalized groups, social justice. How are they advocating for their patients/clients and shaping/improving local/national healthcare policy?