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Health, Arts, & Humanities

The Health, Arts, and Humanities Theme advances a deeper understanding of health, illness, human suffering and disability by creating a community of engaged educators, learners, researchers and practitioners in the clinical sciences, the arts and the humanities at the University of Toronto and beyond.

Sharing creative and critical lenses renders us all more accountable in shaping more humanistic healthcare and educational practices. The voice of patients and clients and their families is central to our discourse.

Our offerings are designed to foster reflexivity, create renewal based on finding pleasure and purpose in our daily work and to deepen personal resilience.

Benefits to Clinicians

A growing international literature has demonstrated that physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals who seek out exposure to the humanities and arts-based learning improve their capacity to think critically and bring enhanced sensitivity, curiosity and creativity to their work with patients.  They learn to challenge personal assumptions and biases, to stretch their world view and to become more reflective practitioners. An interdisciplinary lens to health humanities that draws on critical theory, including feminist, postcolonial, queer and historical approaches can deepen a health professional’s understanding of the connection between the humanities and the social determinants of health.

Benefits to Humanities Scholars

Humanities scholars can be enriched by an ongoing dialogue with colleagues from clinical disciplines and by having direct access to clinical/teaching settings which link to their areas of study or critical theory. They will be invited to help shape the discourse around perceptions of health and illness in our learning community and society at large. Although the central focus of the Theme is on increasing the role of humanities in the provision of good patient care, another goal is widen the focus significantly by understanding medicine through the critical lenses and research methods employed by colleagues in the humanities.

Benefits to Patients

Patients and their families benefit from creative and critical approaches that foster accountability and holistic and humanistic care. Furthermore patient stories are fully honoured as a source of understanding and empowerment for them and a deep source of knowledge and empathy for students, educators and practitioners.

Learning from Each Other

Workshops, seminars, conferences, collaborative research and other activities will bring clinicians and humanities scholars together to consider the social, cultural,  literary and historical dimensions of medicine. The result will be a university-wide community of socially engaged scholars – “medicine watchers” and “healthcare practitioners” – sharing and debating contemporary and historical views on human experience, suffering and dignity.