Orange Alert

Skip to main content
Syracuse University, College of Arts and Sciences

Requirements and Curriculum

The health humanities interdisciplinary learning major (ILM) enhances students’ preparation for the health professions through a curriculum that engages with social and ethical questions that are central to all medical fields, as well as broadening student’s appreciation of the different directions in which they can fruitfully channel their interest in health. Medical schools are keenly aware of how important it is for future doctors to have some familiarity with humanities and social science inquiry and methodology, and to have the habits of critical reflection that these fields help to foster. This insight is reflected in the MCAT exam and in the application and interview process. The health humanities ILM engages students with important questions that they will encounter in their work as health care professionals and provides strategies for sharing their insights with others through oral and written communication. Students will also gain insight into alternative ways in which they might harness their interest in health beyond medical school. Students can supplement any major with the health humanities ILM.

Requirements - 24 credits total

Core - 9 credits

  • HUM 145: Introduction to the Health Humanities
  • PHI 398: Medical Ethics or REL 551 / PHI 593: Ethics and the Health Professions or REL 552 / PHI 594: Bioethics or PHI 396/BIO 396/REL 359: Stem Cells and Society
  • SOC 355/WGS 355: Sociology of Health and Illness or SOC 440/DSP 440: Sociology of Disability

Electives - 12 credits

One course from each of four categories, representing four different departments

Health and Global Concerns

  • ANT 357: Health, Healing, and Culture
  • ANT 467: Culture and Mental Disorders
  • ANT/HTW 463: Global Health
  • AAS 365: International Political Economy of the Third World
  • ANT 455/WGS 455 Culture and AIDS or HST 367: Plague to AIDS
  • PSY 375: Cross-Cultural Psychology

Health and Social Concerns

  • ANT 462/WGS 462/HTW 462: Culture and Reproductive Health and Medicine
  • AAS 412: Hurricane Katrina, Race, Class, Gender, and Disaster
  • ECN 358: Economics of U.S. Poverty and Discrimination
  • ECN 355: Economics of Health and Medical Care
  • GEO 353: Geographies of Environmental Justice
  • HTW 303: Environmental Health
  • GEO 463: Geography of Homelessness
  • PSY 382: Health Psychology
  • PSY 392: Stress and Health
  • HTW 309: Health Disparities and Underserved Populations
  • HTW 409: The Impact of Addictions on Families and Relationships
  • HTW 415: Public Health Ethics
  • ANT 465: Critical Issues in Medical Anthropology
  • ANT 469: Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspective
  • ANT 453: Poverty, Policy, and Human Services

Stages of Life

  • ANT 434 Anthropology of Death
  • PSY 335: Psychology of Childhood
  • PSY 336: Psychology of the Adolescent
  • CFS 423: Death, Dying, and Loss: Child and Family Perspectives
  • SOC 364/WGS 364: Aging and Society
  • ANT 431: Human Variation

Health in Communities

  • SOC 432, DSP 432, WGS 432: Gender and Disability
  • ENG 405: Topics in Medicine and Culture
  • NAT 438/HTW 438: Native American Health Promotion
  • PSY 329: Biopsychological Perspectives on Women’s Health
  • DSP 333/HTW 333: Disability and Public Health
  • DSP 357: Deafness and Disability
  • DSP 424: Representations of Ability and Disability
  • HTW 437: LGBTQ Health and Well Being
  • HOA 411: The Black Death and Medieval Art: Catastrophes and Cultural Change
  • PSY 446: Pediatric Psychology
  • HTW 305: Community Mental Health

Health and Communication

  • CRS 430: Intercultural Communication
  • CRS 331: Interpersonal Communication
  • CFS 326: Developmental Perspectives in Medical Language

Service Learning

Students will be provided with resources to help them establish meaningful service learning relationships in local community organizations or health care settings. Such community service relationships enable students to connect what they learn in the classroom with real world settings, and they provide valuable ways to expand students’ horizons about the kinds of work that they might be interested in. Each community service experience should also be valuable to the organization involved, and it is ultimately up to each student to negotiate the terms of their service learning experience with the organization(s) they are interested in. While we provide resources to help students pursue such opportunities, and maintain contact with supervisors at the student’s organization of choice, it is each student’s responsibility to secure a successful and mutually worthwhile service learning relationship.

Milestone Assignments

While progressing through the ILM, students are required to complete three Milestone Assignments: Core Completion Milestone, to be completed after passing the Core requirements for the ILM; Electives Completion Milestone, to be completed after passing at least 2 out of 4 electives; and Service Learning Milestone, to be completed during or after a service learning experience. These Milestone Assignments are designed to help students reflect on and apply what they have learned, to make connections and comparisons between different subject areas, and to help integrate their service learning experiences into their academic course of study. Initial grading is pass/fail; revised versions of Milestone Assignments will be evaluated as part of the Capstone.

Capstone - 3 credits

HUM445: Health Humanities Capstone: This three-credit course taken during the senior year will help students draw together their humanistic and social science inquiry in exploring issues in the health professions, via practical, hands-on experience with a final project. Along the way, students will also complete smaller writing assignments, including revising their Milestone Assignments, that connect questions in the humanities and social sciences with medical issues and with students’ service learning experiences.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Accurately characterize the field of health humanities.
  2. Describe, compare and contrast some basic theories and methods in the humanities and social sciences, particularly as they relate to the health humanities.
  3. Describe how health humanities overlaps with / complements the student’s primary major(s).
  4. Apply knowledge of the health humanities to critically evaluate, orally and in writing, media items and other statements or claims related to health, illness, and health care, through at least two theoretical lenses proper to the humanities and social sciences.
  5. Apply knowledge of the health humanities to critically evaluate one’s own experiences in health-related settings, through at least two theoretical lenses proper to the humanities and social sciences.
  6. Demonstrate an ability, orally and in writing, to engage in well-informed, culturally sensitive moral reflection about specific topics related to health, illness, disability, and/or health care.
  7. Demonstrate adequate knowledge of different cultural and historical understandings of health, illness, and/or disability, as well as an understanding of social determinants of health and health inequalities.
  8. Demonstrate an ability to engage in long-term cumulative learning in the health humanities, culminating in a research project presented to peers.
  9. Demonstrate a willingness and ability to empathetically consider others’ perspectives.