Bioethics Blogs

Conference Report: The Humanization of Health Sciences through Innovation in Health Professions Education by Thomas Cousins

Brocher Foundation, May 2016


This three-day event took place at the Brocher Foundation Institute, Geneva, from May 17-20 2016, and was generously funded by a Brocher Foundation award. The organising team included Berna Gerber, Thomas Cousins, and Lizahn Cloete (Stellenbosch University), Megan Wainwright (University of Cape Town), Michelle Pentecost (University of Oxford), Ferdinand Mukumbang (University of the Western Cape) and Guddi Singh (Medact, UK).

Just down the road from the Villa Diodati where 200 years of Shelley’s Frankenstein was being commemorated (“a mythic expression of the anxieties of a world confronted with the growing power of science and technology”), a group of 25 scholars gathered at the Fondation Brocher. We had reason to consider anew the ways in which humanities and medicine might be reconciled, learned, and applied in ex-centric contexts between the global south and north, where distinctions between war and everyday life are constantly blurred. Our aim in bringing together a range of scholars from around the world and across many disciplinary — and transdisciplinary! — homes, was to consider new ways of bringing together humanities and social science knowledges with the training of health professionals.

The conversation emerged out of a network of practitioners and researchers interested in health professions education, starting at a workshop on “Building the Critical Health Social Sciences in Malmesbury, South Africa in 2015 organized by Chris Colvin (UCT) and Hayley MacGregor (Sussex), and taken forward at a second meeting with colleagues from around South Africa in March 2016 at the University of Stellenbosch. The Geneva conference covered three broad themes: (1) Health Sciences Curricula in Practice: Experiences of Teaching and Learning; (2) Critical theory and new pedagogies and (3) Praxis and theory: towards integration.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.