Medical Humanities Conference tackles wide range of issues

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Medical Humanities Conference Sept. 27-28

KALAMAZOO—The humanistic dimensions of medicine and health will come into sharper focus later this month when the second Medical Humanities Conference unfolds at Western Michigan University.

The conference runs Thursday to Friday, Sept. 27-28, in the Fetzer Center. Speakers and presenters from institutions across the country will delve into several interdisciplinary topics, including medical ethics, medicine and its ancient roots, medical anthropology, public health, imagining and managing the body, health care and emerging technologies, revolutions in medical history, health care and aging, medical education, and health care and women's studies. The conference begins at 8 a.m. and concludes with dinner both days.

"This conference builds on last year's success, and we're excited to develop WMU into a national leader for the medical humanities," says Dr. Fritz Allhoff, associate professor of philosophy and conference co-director. "The interest has really been wonderful and we couldn't be more grateful for it."

Both days are filled with presentations addressing key human issues related to health and medicine. Eleven concurrent sessions will let attendees pick and choose subjects to suit their individual interests.

Thursday's concurrent sessions include:

  • "Ancient Philosophy and Medicine: Mental Health and Its Relation to Physical Health through the Thought of Ancients"
  • "'Recite Two Incantations and Contact Me in the Morning:' Medicine as Magic in Ancient Egypt"
  • "Praying for Yellow Fever: The Fall of the National Board of Health"
  • "'Will My Baby Be Normal?' Parents, Caregivers and the History of Genetic Counseling in the United States."

Friday's concurrent sessions include:

  • "John Harvey Kellogg and the National Eugenics Movement"
  • "Caring for the Dying Adolescent: Challenges and Conundrums"
  • "The Affordable Care Act and Popular Constitutionalism."

The concurrent offerings are interspersed with plenary sessions both days that will tackle such diverse issues as:

  • "Cultural Consonance: Linking Culture, the Individual and Health" with Dr. William W. Dressler, a medical anthropologist at the University of Alabama
  • "The Legacy of Eugenics in the Era of Human Genomics" with Dr. Alexandra Minn Stern, professor in the Center for the History of Medicine, University of Michigan
  • "The Death of Brain Death and What to Do About It" with Dr. John Robinson, associate professor of law, the Notre Dame Law School, University of Notre Dame
  • "Cinemeducation: What Is It and How Can We Use It to Teach Medical Ethics?" with Dr. Gary Fromm, medical doctor, Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Ind., and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Indiana School of Medicine.

The conference's keynote address is at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and will feature Dr. Tod Chambers, associate professor in the medical humanities and bioethics program in the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine. Chambers' presentation is titled "The Humanities as Medical Equipment."

Cost of the conference is $50 for students, $100 for non-students and $150 for physicians.

For more information, visit wmich.edu/medicalhumanities/conference2012.