Civic Humanist Program launches Medical Humanities event series

The Civic Humanist Program launched a successful 2016 Medical Humanities event series this fall, hosting three field trips for local Houston high schools at Rice and one lecture at Sharpstown High School.

Fellow Rachel Bracken, a PhD Candidate in the English Department, led the series of fall events, offering interactive lectures on the topic of phrenology in the late 19th century in America. Along with exploring the historical prevalence of phrenology in mainstream culture and medical diagnostics, Bracken also raised compelling questions about the relationship between ethics, medical knowledge and history, thus challenging students to think differently about the nature of disease and health in society. 

Philip Montgomery and Sandra Yates from the Texas Medical Center joined the Civic Humanist team, setting up an artifact display room in Fondren Library with the help of Rebecca Carleson and Amanda Focke from the Woodson Research Center. Together they collaborated and presented fascinating objects and documents to students, which related to Bracken’s lecture on phrenology. 


*Amanda Focke with students from North Houston Early College High School during a trip on October 14.


Each field trip concluded with a creative writing prompt assigned by Bracken, which they started while having a nice lunch near the courtyard in front of the beautiful Rice Art Gallery.  The student-run organization, Rice Medical Humanities, kindly offered its support for each field trip. Rice undergraduates Sierra Cowen, Zoe Tao, Astha Mittal, and Danielle Shewmake each assisted with respective field trips, answering questions and exploring the meaning of the medical humanities with visiting high school students.

Overall, students seemed to really enjoy their field trip experience, learning about many facets of the medical humanites and its relevance to both contemporary society and the recent historical record.


*Group picture of Hauke Alternative High School students during their visit to Rice on October 26.

The following high schools brought groups to Rice for the fall 2016 Medical Humanities event series: North Houston Early College High School visited on October 14th; Hauke Alternative High School came for the first time to Rice on October 26th; and DeBakey High School for Health Professionals took its second field trip to Rice on November 14th. Additionally, Bracken gave a wonderful lecture at Sharpstown High School on December 12.

More field trips and lectures are in store for the spring 2017, including one already planned with Strake Jesuit College Prepatory High School on January 17th, as well as a lecture at Booker T. Washington High School. Stay tuned for more news on the Medical Humanities with the HRC's Civic Humanist Program!