Medical Humanities Initiative 2017-11-06T14:54:23-08:00
Dr. Johanna Shapiro is the Director of the Medical Humanities Initiative and a professor in the UC Irvine School of Medicine.

Dr. Douglas Haynes is the Director of the Medical Humanities Initiative and a professor in the UC Irvine School of Humanities.

The Medical Humanities Initiative

Director: Dr. Douglas Haynes
Initiative Funding Period: June 2014 – June 2017

The Problem: Health care resources need to benefit a regional population that is currently more ethnically and racially diverse, economically divided, and stratified by age than ever before. Addressing this new community requires us to promote a health-care model that is culturally sensitive, focused on the individual, and still responsive to the larger community.

The Medical Humanities Initiative is remarkable for its unprecedented collaboration among faculty from three very different schools—Arts, Humanities, and Medicine—who are reimagining health and well-being.

Future Plans

Medical Humanities Initiative members plan to establish a campus Institute for Medical Humanities, building on their current model of interdisciplinary research, creative activity, and public engagement. The Institute will foster communication and dialogue among faculty, students, and the community. In addition, the Institute will contribute to the development of the medical humanities through three distinct areas.

  1. Clinical Humanities: The Institute will aim to highlight the clinical potential of the humanities and arts for healthcare practitioners. It will also offer humanities and arts scholars new opportunities for academic investigation on medicine and health topics.
  2. Bioethics: Today’s rapid and advancements in biomedical technologies are often controversial or have far-reaching implications. Scholars across disciplines can work to ensure that new technology truly serves the needs of both individual patients and the common good.
  3. Well-Being through the Arts: While performance and visual art have been shown to have therapeutic potential, there are limited opportunities for scholars to formally research the potential for painting, drama, dance, and other art forms to aid in human health. The Institute would provide necessary support for medicine/arts research and education.


Visit the Medical Humanities website

Initiative Accomplishments

The UCI Academic Initiative program seeks to unravel some of the world’s most challenging problems through cross-discipline collaboration.

Five faculty from across campus have helped guide the Medical Humanities Initiative. Below are some program highlights.

  • Funded research on madness in Republican China (History), modern notions of mental issues and their connection to the creative mind (English), and intimate violence in the ante-bellum United States (History), and origins of contemporary urban public health (History)
  • Supported a presentation of health care narratives among the Vietnamese-American American community in Orange County (Asian American Studies), the presentation of a play on organ harvesting based on the Kazuo Ishiguro’s 2008 novel Never Let Me Go (Drama), and a collaboration with faculty in dance and neurology departments on the role of dance/movement therapy as a rehabilitation strategy for individuals with neurological disorders (Dance)
  • In fall 2017, the executive committee will be submitting a final proposal to the academic senate for a graduate emphasis in medical humanities. They will also complete a feasibility study for a graduate degree in medical humanities.
  • The Medical Humanities Public Affairs Program provides an opportunity to engage the public on issues of health, healing, well-being, and end of life and physician assisted suicide. The initiative has offered panel discussions on topics ranging from healthcare reform to the Flint water crisis.