Today@Sam Article

Grant Funding Allows Creation Of Medical Humanities Studies

March 29, 2023
SHSU Media Contact: Mikah Boyd

The Department of History at Sam Houston State University was recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities totaling $149,992. The department is thrilled to receive this funding and establish a medical humanities program by creating a minor in the subject.

Scottie Buehler, a historian of medicine in the history department, described her field of study as an interdisciplinary field that combines perspectives from the humanities and social sciences and the natural sciences and medicine to explore the context, experiences and critical conceptual issues in medicine and healthcare.  Scottie Buehler

Buehler led the charge in acquiring the grant funding and is thrilled to see the program get the support it needs to withstand the test of time.

“Money can dry up and if you don’t have the resources to organize something like a speaker series, it can easily go away,” Buehler said. “Whereas when you get those institutional structural changes like implementing a minor or the new courses, those are all things that make sure it’s long-lasting and not tied to one specific individual or group of people but will outlast us and have a deeper impact on campus.”

On top of the creation of a minor in medical humanities, the grant has allowed the department to develop five new courses and four interdisciplinary lessons, expand on a speaker series, host a conference of leading minds in medical humanities and award students at the undergraduate and graduate levels for their research.

By offering the new courses and interdisciplinary lessons, Buehler hopes to reach students outside her department and show those in STEM courses and medical classes how medicine and the liberal arts intersect.

“Healthcare has social, cultural and political aspects to it, so the medical humanities help bridge this gap between biomedicine science and the clinical knowledge with cultural aspects of health,” Buehler said. “It uncovers the ways that social and political structures shape the experience of illness and disability and then even determines who has access to healthcare and what kind of outcomes they have.”

Buehler also noted the new additions align with the university’s strategic priorities such as elevating the university’s reputation through their speaker series that will host prestigious guests and provide students with access to these professionals for successful career development. She elaborated that the university will also be able to better serve the state as students learn how to examine complex healthcare situations through a social and historical lens. 

“Medical schools have been convinced of the benefits of learning the cultural and political aspects to healthcare for the last five to 10 years,” Buehler said. “The American Association of Medical Colleges explicitly said that “by integrating arts and humanities throughout medical education, trainees and physicians can learn to be better observers, interpreters and build empathy, communication, teamwork, skills and more,” so medical schools are looking for people with these skills.”

Thanks to the NEH grant, Buehler and her colleagues in the history department are gearing up for their upcoming speaker series, with events coming up in April and May.

The university was one of 14 projects from Texas that were granted funding as part of the NEH’s goal of supporting humanities initiatives at college campuses, conservation research, innovative digital resources and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this article, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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