The Bucknell Health Humanities Initiative

Professor Carly Boxer, art history, teaches a class in the university archives

The health humanities is the study of health, illness and healing from an interdisciplinary perspective. The health humanities expands our thinking about the body and health beyond the sciences by anchoring itself in the methods of humanistic disciplines, including literary studies, history, languages & cultures, philosophy, religious studies, women's & gender studies, and critical Black studies, among others.

Developed with support from a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Health Humanities Initiative is a cross-departmental effort to engage the Bucknell campus in confronting the dominant definitions, inescapable pasts, and potent symbols and myths that have determined what it means to be healthy, sick, well, ill, disabled, healing, thriving and dying. Through curricular offerings and extra-curricular programming, the initiative aims to draw students into deeper reflection on how health and disease are never neutral categories but rather result from historically contingent factors.

We offer creative courses, produce innovative scholarship, and promote dynamic events that bring the campus and regional community together in order to illuminate the social, historical and cultural processes that impact the many meanings of health and illness.

Professor Katharine McCabe, women's & gender studies, points to an unseen student while teaching a class

The Health Humanities Minor

New for the 2024-25 academic year, the health humanities minor is designed for students from all three colleges and complements their studies in any other discipline. Students will explore the hidden, abandoned or neglected connections between health and its cultural, historical and environmental contexts, and will be uniquely prepared for a range of careers within and beyond health care.

The five-course minor requires an introductory course and four courses chosen from a range of possible fields, reflecting the diversity of perspectives that can help build and contextualize our understanding of the human world of medicine and health.

Learn more in the course catalog

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Learn more about the development and future of the Health Humanities Initiative

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Professor John Penniman, religious studies, points to a blackboard while teaching a class

Core Faculty in Health Humanities