Disease, Illness, and Health through Literature (Gen Ed 1078)

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020


As healthcare costs soar and considerable suffering from disease and illness continues despite regular advances in medical technology, what should we advocate for in our communities, our societies, our nations, and beyond to ease the burden of disease and illness on health professionals, family caregivers, and care recipients alike?
 

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Karen Thornber

Inevitably, at some point in our lives, most of us will develop a health condition that requires medical treatment and care. We also, regardless of our career, are likely to be called on to provide care for individuals (loved ones and/or patients) whose health conditions make it impossible for them to care for themselves. Moreover, as COVID-19 has made glaringly apparent, economic, racial, social, and other inequalities mean many members of society are especially vulnerable to serious health conditions. How can we be effective partners in care, both in our personal lives and, for those in the health professions, in our professional lives? How can we best prepare ourselves to be effective care partners, whether we are the givers of care, the receivers of care, or both? What should our short-term and long-term goals be as individuals, communities, and societies, and how can we best implement these goals? As healthcare costs soar and considerable suffering from disease and illness continues despite regular advances in medical technology, what should we advocate for in our communities, our societies, our nations, and beyond to ameliorate if not eradicate racism, sexism, classism, ableism, ageism, ethnocentrism/jingoism, heterosexism, and similar and frequently intersecting forms of oppression, easing the burden of disease and illness on caregivers and care recipients alike?

This course provides the ideal space for you to examine, contemplate, discuss, and debate these and similar fundamental questions, which all of us increasingly must face. Class discussions, readings, and written assignments will provide you with the tools to become more effective advocates for and providers of compassionate, empathic care, both now and in the future. Engaging with a diverse range of fiction, drama, creative non-fiction, life writing, and memoirs from five continents by physicians, patients (including physician-patients), activists, and other concerned individuals, the course challenges many fundamental preconceptions regarding disease, illness, health, and care. This course helps us interrogate what it means to promote healing and wellbeing in our personal and professional lives particularly in the current COVID era.

Register for Gen Ed 1078