Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine Seminars | NYU School of Medicine | NYU Langone Health

Skip to Main Content
Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine Seminars

Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine Seminars

NYU School of Medicine’s Master Scholars Program in Humanistic Medicine offers interdisciplinary seminars, called mini-courses, that explore the intersections of medicine with the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Moderated by expert faculty, these noncredit seminars are open to all students, faculty, and staff in the NYU community who are interested in these creative and intellectual pursuits.

This sampling of seminars that have been offered in the past provides a good idea of what participants can expect to experience in the program.

Art and Anatomy

On Tuesday evenings, the Anatomy Lab becomes an art studio where anatomy is explored in an alternate mode: through drawing—a way of learning to see.

This seminar enhances 3D and spatial understanding of the body's interior, emphasizes the individuality of each anatomical structure, and engages participants in creative expression. Participants examine various visual representations of the inner body—including anatomical art, medical illustration, fine art, and medical imagery—and consider how these shape the way doctors and patients think about the body.

Those with any level of drawing experience, including beginners, are welcome. The emphasis is on the process and experience of drawing, rather than traditional, step-by-step instruction.

Watch a video about the seminar and view selected drawings.

The Art of Seeing

This seminar uses art’s formal elements as tools to strengthen observational skills, self-awareness, and emotional awareness. Sessions takes place at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where selected works are studied in depth.  Students consider issues of point of view, bias, and ambiguity and explore their relevance to diagnosis and patient communication.

A highly interactive seminar, this course combines participant-centered discussions with hands-on art, writing, and observational exercises to heighten visual–perceptual skills. Selected art works cover a wide range of art styles, including figurative and abstract works, as well as painting, photography, drawing, and sculpture.

End of Life Narratives

This seminar explores attitudes about, responses to, and narratives regarding the end of life (EOL). Topics span hospice and palliative care, bedside compassionate presence, aid in dying, spirituality and belief, and various bioethical issues.

Discussions examine currently accepted narratives about the end of life, what is required to reimagine these narratives, and whether it is necessary to reimagine them. Reading selections are taken from several genres, including memoir, poetry, fiction, obituaries, articles, and personal essays. Focused writing exercises are designed to help build reflective capacity and enhance one's ability to understand end of life experiences.

Medical Improv

Medicine and theater require an ability to communicate effectively with their respective audiences, and both incorporate some degree of scripted and improvised interactions. This seminar teaches improvisational skills to medical learners and providers.

Core components of communication—such as verbal cues, body language, emotion, listening, silence, and relationship dynamics—are practiced through a series of improvisational exercises. Students explore the connections between communication and medicine through in-class discussion and reflective assignments.

Participants are challenged to deepen their communication abilities and examine the complexities of their role within the phsycian–patient relationship in a fun, low-stress setting. No prior experience with improvisation, comedy, or theater is required.

Vaccine Ethics

This seminar explores the history and ethics of vaccination in the United States, as well as globally. Since the late 18th century, vaccines have elicited a spectrum of public reactions ranging from enthusiasm to outrage to fear.

Through reading and group discussion, participants examine controversies in vaccination stoked at various times by government, pharma, journalists, the global health community, and a skeptical public. Participants examine fundamental questions about the tension between individual autonomy and public health, and the appropriate role and scope of efforts to promote one over the other.