Center for Health Humanities

Upcoming Events

Currently there are no events scheduled. 

Past Events

Making Space for Arts in Community Rethinking Social Wellness

Presented by: Andrea Charise, BASc, MA, PhD, University of Toronto Scarborough
Thursday, April 18, 2024

This talk presented an historically informed, theoretically-driven, praxis-guided framework for a renewed vision of social wellness.

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Ethical, Legal, and Social Challenges for Neurodivergent Adults in our Communities

Presented by:  Joseph M. Gabriel, Associate Professor of History, Department of Behavioral Sciences and Social Medicine, Florida State University
Thursday, November 7, 2023

In this co-edited volume, we will examine new issues facing autistic adults, such as housing, self-care, advocacy, spirituality, oral health, and “masking.” This presentation will provide a précis of our new book and elicit feedback 

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Proprietary Medicines and the Crisis of American Pharmacy, 1918-1942

Presented by: Nanette Elster, JD, MPH Kayhan Parsi, JD, PhD, HEC-C
Thursday, February 1, 2024

In the four decades before World War II, pharmacists increasingly dispensed mass-produced drugs sold under brand names instead of compounding prescriptions. This talk describes how the increased sale of proprietary medicines led to a professional crisis among pharmacists related to their loss of autonomy, economic instability, and increased legal jeopardy. It will also discuss how pharmacists responded to this troubling situation.

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Labeling Without Slurring, MCPHS Health Humanities

Presented by: Joel Anderson
Thursday, October 12, 2023

For more information visit Dr. Joel Anderson's website and the work of the Ethics Institute - Utrecht University.

This research on mental health labels is related to two grant projects:

  1. An interdisciplinary collaboration at Utrecht University, particularly in collaboration with Dr. Anderson's colleagues Sander Werkhoven and Ingrid Robeyns:  Developmental labels: the good, the bad and the contested - Dynamics of Youth - Utrecht University.
  2. An ongoing project on the "Ethics of Data-Driven Mental Health Diagnostics", with Sander Werkhoven and PhD researcher Anna van Oosterzee, as well as Dr.Anderson's colleagues, Thomas Bäck and Anna Kononova in computer science at Leiden University, as part of the multi-university research consortium on Ethics of Socially Disruptive Technologies ("ESDit").

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Constructing Moral Babies: Medical and Scientific Enterprises of Infancy in America, 1850s-1920

Presented by: Elisabeth Yang, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate at the Kilachand Honors College of Boston University, and Visiting Researcher in Health Humanities at MCPHS.
Thursday, March 23, 2023

This talk explored the philosophical and social constructions of the “moral” infant in American medical and scientific discourses from the 1850s to the 1920s. While historians have traditionally viewed the emergence of infant study and pediatrics from a physiological perspective, Dr. Yang’s work uncovers complex debates within medical and scientific communities concerning the moral aspects of infants, particularly how infants’ moral agency could be understood and directed.

Autistic Intelligence, Social Interaction, and the Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Presented by: Doug Maynard, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.
Thursday, January 26, 2023

This talk reported on recorded observations of the process of diagnosing autism and communicating diagnostic findings to family members. It explored how the diagnostic process can go beyond just sorting out who fits the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to discover and highlight the unique contributions autistic people make to the world around us.

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The Mask: How We Navigate Race, Health, and Safety by Concealing and Revealing our Identities

Presented by: Sharrona Pearl, Associate Professor of Medical Ethics and History at Drexel University, and Visiting Researcher in Health Humanities at MCPHS.
Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Using a broad historical lens, Dr. Pearl explored the history of masking asking various sites and domains of practice to show its consistent use as a means of protection and division. She discussed contemporary masking from the anti-mask laws of the nineteenth century through the pandemic, looking in particular at the tensions between exposure and concealment, both of which are perceived as mechanisms of safety. She concluded with a discussion of racism in masking practices, arguing that for Black men in the US, structural racism was behind attempts to criminalize their masking even when it was legally required due to public health ordinances.

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Labels for Developmental Disorders: Blessing or Curse?

Presented by: Sander Werkhoven, a member of the Ethics Institute and Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
September 29, 2022

In this talk, Dr. Werkhoven discussed the value of diagnostic labels in scientific, therapeutic, social and administrative contexts. Are they a blessing or a curse?

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Invisible Made Visible: Comics and Mental Illness

Presented by: Dr. Jessica Gross, an independent scholar and the inaugural Visiting Researcher at the MCPHS Center for Health Humanities. Until her resignation in June of 2022, she was Associate Professor of English at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis (UHSP).
October 20, 2022

In this talk, Dr. Gross discussed her forthcoming edited collection about comics and mental illness.

Logic-Based Therapy in Healthcare: Using Philosophy to Do and Feel Better

Presented by: Elliot D Cohen, Ph.D., Brown University, principal founder of philosophical counseling in the United States, Executive Director and co-founder of the National Philosophical Counseling Association (NPCA), and President of the Logic-Based Therapy and Consultation Institute.
October 6, 2022

In the past few years, healthcare professionals have confronted exceptionally stressful working conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have resigned their positions, and many others who remain now suffer from burnout or related syndromes that impede their ability to work in this ordinarily high-stress environment. In this presentation, Elliot D. Cohen, the creator of Logic-Based Therapy (LBT), a prominent form of philosophical counseling, showed how the six-step method of LBT can help you to identify and refute types of self-destructive emotional thinking that often underlie such impediments, and then to overcome them through application of virtue theory and philosophy.

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Health Humanities Consortium's (HHC) 10th Annual Conference

Co-hosted by The Center for Health Humanities at MCPHS, The Center for Literature and Medicine at Hiram College, and The Health, Medicine, and Society Program at Lehigh University
Friday, March 25, 2022 – Sunday, March 27, 2022

The theme of the three-day virtual event was: “Spaces of/for Health Humanities,” broadly construed. This year’s program is filled with presentations and workshops, both on theme and across a wide range of topics, in addition to featuring three remarkable plenary speakers.

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life

Presented by Diane Shader Smith
November 9, 2021

Hospitals increasingly promote patient-centered care but mounting pressure for providers to bill more while spending less time with each patient leads to dehumanized care. The irony is that patients are often excluded from discussions about their diagnoses, treatment plans, and prognoses, which is why The New England Journal of Medicine has launched a new initiative called, “The Power of the Patient Voice.” Although literature and medicine have long been intertwined, patient narratives are now recognized as an important part of medical education.

Religious Perspectives on Grief and Loss

Presented by: Rev. Dean Shapley, Imam Elsir Sanousi, and Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand
October 28, 2021

In times of loss and mourning, religious traditions can offer comfort through structure, ritual, and community. Join us to hear three religious leaders discuss how their traditions approach grief, loss, and mourning. Understanding these traditions can help us with our own losses. It can also help us understand and support our friends, our students, our colleagues, and our patients during this period of great loss across the world.

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The Humanities and Ethics of Black Maternal Mortality

Presented by Keisha Ray, PhD
October 21, 2021

In America, Black women (or pregnant people) are three times more likely than White women to die during or soon after childbirth. Despite the United States’ wealth, its expensive health care system, and its abundance of obstetrics and gynecology knowledge, largely built on the abuse of enslaved Black women, it is still potentially deadly for Black women to deliver babies in the United States. In this presentation I use the principles of bioethics and the methodologies of medical humanities to explore explanations and solutions to contemporary Black maternal mortality rates. Central to this presentation is a discussion of Black pregnant people as a population but also a discussion of how this issue affects individuals.

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Spit Spreads Death: A Seminar with Dr. Jane E. Boyd

What can we learn from previous pandemics in the United States? Dr. Jane E. Boyd discusses in detail what 17,500 death certificates from the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia can show us how the 1918-19 influenza pandemic devastated the neighborhoods and communities of Philadelphia.

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Using Data and Multi-Sector Collaboration to Address Inequities During COVID-19

Presented by Devan Hawkins, Instructor of Public Health and Dr. Carly Levy, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Director, Master of Public Health Program.

The burden of COVID-19 has not been borne equally by all communities in the United States. In particular, people of color have accounted for a disproportionate share of cases, hospitalization, and deaths. At the same time, socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and those employed in essential jobs have also experienced the most severe impacts of the disease. In this presentation. Dr. Levy and Dr. Hawkins will present data describing these disparities and factors contributing to them. They will also discuss collaborative activities carried out by MCPHS students and faculty to address these disparities.

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Operationalizing Neurodiversity: How should the Neurodiversity Movement Shift Autism Service-Provision and Research

Presented by: Ari Ne’eman, doctoral student in Health Policy at Harvard University and Senior Research Associate at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

Over the last three decades, the neurodiversity movement has attracted growing attention and enthusiasm from autistic people around the world. Centered on the idea of opposing a "cure" for autism and other neurological disabilities, neurodiversity argues for a comprehensive reframing of the objectives of research, policy and service-provision regarding autism and certain other disabilities.

Ari Ne'eman is a doctoral student in Health Policy at Harvard University and a Senior Research Associate at the Harvard Law School Project on Disability. He co-founded the Autistic Self Advocacy Network and served as its executive director from 2006 to 2016. From 2010 to 2015, he served as one of President Obama's appointees to the National Council on Disability. He is currently working on a book for Simon & Schuster on the history of American disability advocacy over the last two hundred years.

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A Comparative Politics Perspective on Virus Response 

Presented by: Sofia Fenner, PhD Assistant Professor of Political Science, Arabic & Islamic Studies, Colorado College 

Governments have responded to the COVID pandemic in strikingly disparate ways. This variation is both fascinating and frustrating: it tells us something important about the ways we govern ourselves, but it has also produced deeply unequal health outcomes. As scholars and citizens have struggled to make sense of government responses, “culture” has emerged as one potential explanatory factor. Could there be something about the shared values, scripts, and practices of different communities that accounts for the form and success of virus response? Or can variation be better explained by historical and institutional factors? How should we assess the role of human agency within political and social structures? In this talk, Professor Sofia Fenner explores cases from around the world to shed light on what we can (and cannot) say about virus response thus far. 

Who We Grieve for and Why

Presented by: Michael Cholbi

Humans grieve the deaths of others — but not all others. We of course grieve the deaths of close family and loved ones, but we also grieve the deaths of political leaders, role models, and celebrities. In this talk, Professor Michael Cholbi attempts to explain what kind of relationships with others are necessary in order for us to grieve their deaths. In so doing, we'll also better grasp the nature of the loss that leads us to grieve.

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