Our Work & Mandate

The Health Humanities (also called the Medical Humanities) can be defined as a sustained interdisciplinary/inter-professional enquiry into aspects of medical practice, education and research expressly concerned with the HUMAN SIDE of medicine and healthcare.

At the University of Toronto, for the last 10 years, the Health, Arts and Humanities Theme has encouraged ongoing dialogue, exchange, research and collaboration among several fields of study and practice:

  • biomedicine (with representation from ALL healthcare disciplines)
  • philosophy, theology and bioethics
  • history of medicine / healthcare
  • the arts (including music, theatre, dance, cinema, visual arts and graphic medicine)
  • literary studies (including poetry, reflective and creative writing, close reading of literary texts, critical theory)
  • anthropology
  • sociology

All of our courses, lectures and workshops have been designed to help learners and practitioners to deepen their reflective capacity, narrative competence, critical thinking, visual literacy and personal/professional renewal through engagement with the arts.

We co-founded the first national Creating Space Conference in medical humanities and the arts in health professional education in Canada in 2010 and facilitated the creation of the Canadian Association For Health Humanities (www.cahh.ca) in 2019.

We help curate humanities teaching at the medical school and other clinical faculties, for students, residents, fellows and postgraduate learners and practitioners working in the community.

Our instructors include clinicians from all health disciplines, visual and performing artists and humanities scholars. We are fortunate to have six honorary Artists-In-Residence and four Specialists in Arts-Based Education.

Our Mandate

We encourage practitioners, educators and learners to reflect upon:

WHO they are as individuals with unique strengths and personal values — and also blind spots, privileges, biases and human vulnerabilities. How are they taking care of themselves, achieving life balance and fostering creativity, resilience and renewal? What brings them a sense of pleasure and purpose?

WHAT they are in their role as health professionals in contemporary society. This includes examining curricula (intentional and hidden) and notions of professionalism, accountability and ethical behaviour.

WHERE they are, in terms of community context, access and healthcare needs. This includes paying attention to , population health, the ecological environment, care of marginalized groups and social justice. How are they advocating for their patients/clients and shaping/improving local/national healthcare policy?