As part of a nearly $2 million University of Illinois System initiative, fourteen projects were selected from more than 50 proposals to bolster and encourage the arts and humanities at the system’s universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield–one of which will result in a new medical humanities curriculum for both undergraduates in the system and medical students in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine. Stephanie Hilger, who has been involved in developing the medical humanities thread at Carle Illinois, has been awarded a $100,000 portion of this initiative to support her efforts in bridging the humanities and health sciences for students pursuing careers in health.

Photo credit: Stephanie Hilger

The Carle Illinois curriculum was specifically designed at the intersection of medicine and engineering, training its students to approach medicine using a problem-solving mindset in order to leverage technology to improve patient care. While medical machines and technology have greatly advanced the scope of treatment available to patients, these tools are designed to allow physicians more time to treat the whole person. Developing the medical humanities curriculum will propel Carle Illinois to fulfill its commitment to a high-tech, high-touch learning environment for its students.

“The emphasis of Carle Illinois College of Medicine is to leverage engineering and technology to enhance the humanistic aspect of medicine. Developing a cutting edge curriculum for medical humanities in the rapidly changing world of health care is sorely needed not just for our college, but for medical education in general. We are very fortunate to have this funding to jumpstart our efforts in this important area,” said Dr. King Li, dean of the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

In addition to building the medical humanities curriculum for Carle Illinois medical students, the grant will also build a medical humanities curriculum for undergraduates at Illinois, and will create “public squares” that will bring together scholars, students, community experts, activists, artists and health professionals to discuss various health issues impacting the communities surrounding the three universities.

“In the context of the presidential initiative, we will organize a lecture series with prominent speakers in medical humanities, develop a medical humanities curriculum, and organize a public forum for discussing health issues from a variety of perspectives,” Hilger said. Hilger is also head of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, and professor of German, comparative and world literature, and gender and women’s studies in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.