ASU series explores role of humanities in health care

February 9, 2015

How does our understanding of the relationships between our bodies, our minds and our environments influence our attitudes regarding health care?

What stories do we tell about health, and what do these stories tell us about its past, present and future? student receiving a physical exam at ASU Health Services Download Full Image

Medical humanities, a growing, interdisciplinary field of study, brings insights about being human that are explored in fields from the humanities disciplines to modern medicine and health care, to find answers to the aforementioned questions and to improve and provide a human focus for American health care.

To kickstart conversations regarding the role of humanities in health-related fields and inform future collaborations, Arizona State University’s Institute for Humanities Research, in partnership with Mayo Clinic Center for Humanities in Medicine, is launching a series of presentations and discussions called “Imagining Health.”

According to Cora Fox, associate professor of English at ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, who is leading the medical humanities initiative at the Institute for Humanities Research, humanities and arts have always been part of health care. A growing body of evidence from diverse fields points toward the importance of incorporating them into medical training and patient care programs, thus enhancing patient outcomes, wellness and quality of life.

“When we make decisions about health care, we confront the most basic questions of human existence about life’s meaning, our own mortality, the meaning in pain and suffering, and our connections to others surviving crises of the body,” said Fox. “Our confrontations with these questions often lead us to the arts or literature, finding and sharing a moving book or poem to try to distill our experiences with illness or death. Our responses can be examined and framed through fields like history, ethics and philosophy.”

The series of events will begin with the discussion “Imagining Disease: Horror and Health in Medicine.” Catherine Belling, associate professor in medical education, medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, will lead the event.

The discussion will take place on Feb. 19 inside the Ashley B. Taylor Auditorium at Mayo Scottsdale Clinic on Shea Boulevard.

ASU faculty members Tamara Underiner, associate dean for research at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, and Seline Szkupinski-Quiroga, faculty research affiliate at the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center at ASU’s Center for Population Dynamics, will lead the discussion “CENAS: How theatre can disrupt unhealthy habits” on March 19 in CP81C at Mayo Scottsdale Clinic.

According to Szkupinski-Quiroga, “While theater has been widely used in health education efforts, it is often treated as just a delivery mechanism. We are investigating the potential of creativity in the form of theater-making to truly make a long-lasting difference in changing people’s attitudes, behaviors and lifestyle choices. Theater lets people take risks and do things they never thought they’d be able to do.”

In addition, on April 16, Ben Hurlbut, assistant professor in the School of Life Sciences, will present “Accounting for Care,” a lecture that focuses on how accounts of care in the medical field are both descriptive and prescriptive: they represent medicine as it is, but also as it should be. Focusing in particular on precision biomedicine, he will explore how accounts of care are morally inflected and how they are changing.

All of these events are free and open to the public. To RSVP, click here.

Media projects manager, Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development

ASU health, nutrition students get more support to study abroad

February 9, 2015

Studying abroad just got easier for students in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at Arizona State University.

ASU was one of seven higher education institutions selected to receive the 100,000 Strong in the Americas Innovation Fund grant for students in health and nutrition fields of study. woman taking earmold of a man's ear Download Full Image

The grant, in the amount of $25,000 – issued by the U.S. Department of State, Partners of the Americas and NAFSA: Association of International Educators – provides funding for undergraduate and graduate students with a focus on identifying solutions to help prevent and reduce obesity.

The project – called “Engage Globally: Nutrition and Health Promotion Student Mobility to the Americas” – is a collaboration between the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, the ASU Study Abroad Office and Monterrey Institute of Technology, also known as Tecnológico de Monterrey. The opportunity is open to nutrition and health promotion students at both institutions.

ASU has a long-standing relationship with Tecnológico de Monterrey. The two institutions have partnered on several initiatives, including entrepreneurship and innovation programs, and programs on biotechnology and online education. ASU and Tecnológico de Monterrey jointly launched the Latin America Office of the Global Institute of Sustainability.

“Our goal is to increase the number of students and faculty from Arizona and Mexico City who are exposed to international education and the opportunities that exist therein by building on an established exchange program between the two institutions," said Adam Henry, director of the ASU study abroad office. “Recognizing that students in the fields of health promotion and nutrition will serve a diverse population of individuals, this opportunity can prepare these future professionals by [teaching them] how to adapt to a new culture and communicate in a cross-cultural context.”

ASU students selected for scholarships with the program will conduct research on combating obesity-linked behavior through physical activity and nutritional education, examining health beliefs and practices, and will use technology to maximize cultural awareness and education.

The goal of 100,000 Strong in the Americas, one of President Obama’s signature education initiatives, is to increase the number of U.S. students studying in the western hemisphere to 100,000, and the number of western hemisphere students studying in the U.S. to 100,000 by the year 2020. The initiative is aimed at enhancing competitiveness, prosperity and preparing a globally aware workforce.

The scholarships are for first-generation students within the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion who apply to a semester exchange program. Students who are interested in participating may contact