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Health, Humanities, and Society

The Minor

The Health, Humanities, and Society minor is designed for students who would like to learn how to think capaciously and creatively about health using the rigorous, precise, and flexible skills trained by the social sciences and the humanities. The social sciences teach students to think about the social, economic, and political factors that structure health conditions and outcomes in particular societies, while the humanities train students to navigate the complexities of interpersonal interaction and their ethical implications, to relate the micro to the macro and texts to contexts, to historicize encounters, to communicate accurately and effectively across a variety of media, and to engage in creative analytical thinking about healthcare. The landscape of healthcare is quickly changing, and this training will equip students well not only for the diverse forms of health work that exist today, but for as yet unimaginable varieties of health-related work in the future.

This minor is structured around the particular competencies that the social sciences and humanities train. Those competencies are narrative and historical perspective, critical attention and observation, ethics and judgment, performance and creativity, and social and structural proficiency. Rather than adopting the more traditional approach of connecting particular skills to particular disciplines (say, narrative to literature and observation to art history), this minor builds from discipline-specific health knowledge while training students to think across disciplines. Thus, it will not be unusual for students to find a single course addressing multiple competencies or to take courses in different disciplines that address the same competency from distinct but complementary perspectives.

This minor is housed in the Humanities Center of the College of Social Sciences and Humanities in partnership with the Bouvé College of Health Sciences.


Director of the Minor: [ON LEAVE 2019-2020]
Professor Sari Altschuler
Humanities Center, Northeastern University
360 Huntington Ave, 450 Renaissance Park
Boston, MA 02115

Interim Director of the Minor:
Professor Christopher Parsons
235 ME
360 Huntington Avenue,
Boston, MA 02115


The Initiative

The Health, Humanities, and Society Initiative works with students to explore new approaches to social and cultural problems in health and healthcare. It seeds projects that use the rigorous tools of the humanities and social sciences to address health challenges, focusing especially on the interactions between the digital world and healthcare. The core of these projects is cross-disciplinary and intergenerational collaboration and their aim is to improve the relationship between health and our society. In this way, the initiative research will build on the humanistic and social science competencies training students acquire in the Health, Humanities, and Society minor, helping them tackle health issues from historical, ethical, narrative, social, and cultural perspectives. These research collaborations are not focused solely on clinical settings but on health in all of its forms, including fields like nursing, public health, and global health and topics like race, gender, class, sex, and disability.