A health humanities major will be added to the 2017-18 Baker catalog. It will feature courses involving physical health, nutrition and rehabilitation therapy along with an emphasis on empathetic understanding, critical thinking and ethics.
Assistant Professor of English Tamara Slankard said Baker’s will be the first and only health humanities program in the state.
“It’s something that has been missing,” Slankard said. “It’s meant for students who are interested in both traditional humanities-type disciplines as well as the sciences.”
Slankard said that prior to this major, there hasn’t been a home for people who have those diverse arts and science interests.
The health and humanities major could be beneficial to students wanting to increase their humanistic worldview before taking a job that is in a clinical or therapeutic setting such as art therapy, patient advocacy or pharmaceutical sales.
Slankard said this can also be coupled with another major or minor to prepare students for careers related to health care.
“It’s a way for Baker students to have opportunities that are typically only available to students at large research institutions,” Slankard said.
The Humanities Department is partnering with the Department of Behavioral and Health Sciences for the health and humanities curriculum, which may also provide an advantageous minor for students following the pre-med or pre-nursing track. It can be used as a supplemental minor, which will allow these students to bring to the medical field a background in communication and behavioral research, as well as developing a social, ethical and cultural perspective relating to human health.
“Over the last 10 years, since the development of the health and humanities major, health care administrators have said nursing, medical and pre-physical therapy students come with all of the science, math and health-care related knowledge,” Slankard said.
However, she said sometimes the kinds of skills they lack are those that a humanities major can develop, such as a better worldview.
“We are interested in the totality of human experience,” Slankard said.