Medical Humanities Summer School 2021

Green Templeton’s annual residential Summer School in Medical Humanities went online this year. A feature of the Summer School throughout its history has been its interactive nature and it took a year of planning to work out how to create this experience online.

Hosted by the course co-Directors Laurie Maguire, Peter Friend, Alison Stenton and Marta Arnaldi, eighteen wonderful students – a mix of school students and undergraduates from the UK and the USA – approached the week with gusto, embracing collaborative tasks and assignments, participating in tutorials, writing academic and creative works, and engaging in dialogue with the course tutors and the visiting lecturers.

Poster image created as part of the programme featuring Boris Johnson, Chris Whitty and highlighted words in the form of a wordcloud

Poster image created as part of the programme by Rachel Fox, a 4th year medical student at Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth

This year’s stellar line-up of tutors included Oxford’s Professor Dame Hermione Lee on Virginia Woolf and the language of pain, Professor Jonathan Wolff on ethics and pharmaceutical experimentation in the Tuskegee trial, and Dr Anant Jani on Healthcare and Management. Our academic visitors covered topics such as medical journalism (Abi Rimmer from the BMJ) and decolonising medical humanities (Dan Goodley from Sheffield and Steven Wilson from Queens, Belfast).

We spent a day spent on global issues: Sridhar Venkatapuram from KCL led the students through  the moral machine experiment, Gerri McHugh, director of  Global Health Film, introduced us to the idea of documentary films about health issues and Radhika Vachani, founder of the Institute of Inner Wellbeing and Excellence in New York City, talked about engaging corporations in positive wellness (and also, amazingly, led us through two short meditation sessions of two and five minutes).

Green Templeton Senior Tutor and co-Director Alison Stenton said after the event:

‘The summer school is a highlight of the college calendar for me and I’m thrilled we were able to run it virtually this year. The week plays to Green Templeton’s strengths in medical education and in our commitment to support a transformative learning experience for a diverse group of students.

‘The programme featured talks and workshops from several college fellows – and one of our DPhil students – on topics selected to provoke dialogue across the disciplines and to challenge traditional ways of seeing. Every year I am so impressed by the commitment and creativity of the students who participate, and this year was no exception.’

As always, student bursaries were generously funded by the Van Houten Fund, by TORCH and by Green Templeton College.

The online event was enabled by phenomenal support from the personnel in GTC’s departments of Academic Support, Events, IT, and Communications, and in the English Faculty.

An example final project ‘The Frontline: Defensive Medicine’ by Rachel Fox, a 4th year medical student at Peninsula Medical School, University of Plymouth is available to read.

Students had this to say about their week’s experience:

  • ‘I loved how all of the material was presented in a way that allowed all of us students to interpret it as we please and incorporate it into our own disciplines in whatever way we seemed fit.’
  • ‘This summer school has re-shaped the way I view the humanities. I hoped to find some areas of overlap between medicine and the humanities, and what I discovered was that the fields are constantly intertwined with one another.’
  • ‘The thematic progression of the week allowed me to reconsider and evaluate my previous assumptions.’
  • ‘The week’s programming was truly amazing in all senses, I will cherish what I learned forever.’
  • ‘Beautifully and holistically informative; moving from multiplicity and multidisciplinary to interdisciplinary and integral harmony.’

More about Green Templeton and medical humanities

Created: 5 August 2021

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