“The Role of Humanities in a Time of Pandemic”

“The Role of Humanities in a Time of Pandemic”

Epidemics and pandemics cause us to reevaluate different facets of healthcare, health inequities, as well as health access. Through listening to individuals’ lived experiences during these outbreaks, humanities scholars argue healthcare practices gain greater insights and deeper understandings of the communities and people behind them.

In April of 2021, the Global Health Humanities initiative at the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research partnered with the Consortium of Universities for Global Health to discuss cross-disciplinary perspectives on access to health care, the significance of empathy by medical practitioners, community building, as well as different modes of expression for individuals during a pandemic. During this webinar, experts across the medical and humanities fields came together to respond to the question, “What is the role of humanities in a time of pandemic?” 

In response to this question, Dr. Quentin Eichbaum, Professor and Program Director at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, discussed the challenges of developing health humanities programs in medical schools in low resource settings as well as how these programs can improve healthcare practices around the world. Dr. Jessica Howell, Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Glasscock Center for Humanities Research at Texas A&M University, addressed the value of listening [analyzing] individuals’ [oral histories] during epidemics and pandemics, specifically those affected by Ebola outbreaks in Sierra Leonean communities, as a way of understanding various cultural practices in regards to health and healing. Charles-Antoine Barbeau, M.A. Sociology and MD/PhD Candidate at Université de Sherbrooke, explored how collective empathy and social trust are critical foundations of resilient and thriving societies. Dr. Srividya Ramasubramanian, Professor of Communication and Presidential Impact Fellow at Texas A&M University, presented her project Quarantined Across Borders which features 84 short stories from more than 30 countries. With this collection, Dr. Ramasubramanian demonstrates the differences in experiences across the world during a pandemic and how understanding these differences helps us to build communities of support. 

To view the full recording of the webinar, click here.