National Endowment for the Humanities Grant


The Human Story of Illness: Health Humanities Portraits for Physicians in Training grant (National Endowment for the Humanities; AC-258909-18) was a two-year initiative structured around faculty workshops at the University of Illinois-College of Medicine campus to develop health humanities portraits for health professions education. The grant involved five outside health humanities content experts [experts] and ten faculty participants [faculty core] who developed health humanities portraits for use in health professions training. 

In year one, the experts developed health humanities portraits according to the HHP framework documents found on this website. They used their own distinctive disciplinary lens to do so. The experts came from the fields of literature, bioethics, cultural studies, performance studies, and history (Rebecca Garden, Jodi Halpern, Jonathan Metzl, Gretchen Case, and Ellen Amster, respectively). These experts focused on the social themes of immigration and identity, social suffering and the fallacies of medical prognosis, the politics of guns, rural populations and access to care, and global poverty and women’s health. 

Prior to each faculty development workshop [n=9], the faculty core read the reading materials and prepared feedback. At each on-site, 3-hour workshop, each expert taught his/her/their developed portrait to the faculty core [University of Illinois at Chicago faculty participants who were chosen for the grant]. S/he/their described his/her/their process in developing the HHP, led a discussion on how to understand the various ways humanities scholars of his/her/their discipline think about and develop curricula, led a discussion analyzing the portrait material and how to more effectively teach it , and worked with the faculty participants to refine it for delivery in the curriculum (75 minutes). In the second part of the workshop (75 minutes), s/he/they delineated optimal pedagogical methods and class activities for the created portrait and solicited the faculty core’s feedback. 

The faculty core members came from a range of humanities and health-related disciplines and served as the workshop students. They participated in the workshop discussion and prepared activities (per the HHP teaching guide and expert’s plan), and interacted with their peers to fully engage with the material. They suggested revisions to improve the portrait, offered additional classroom activity ideas, suggested changes to the reading list, and gave other feedback. With that input, the expert revised the portrait in the following months after the workshop, and submitted it to the grant team for review and final approval.  

 In year two, four teams consisting of 2-3 faculty core members each developed and revised additional portraits using the same workshop process as year one. One outside expert from year one mentored one team in developing its portrait, using the knowledge and experience s/he/they developed in year one. We matched each expert and faculty team based on the portrait’s disciplinary focus and the scholar’s disciplinary expertise. The expert helped the team throughout the HHP development and revision process, meeting with them to give advice and feedback prior, during, and after the team’s workshop. Faculty members revised their portraits and submitted them for review and final approval to the grant team. Faculty team portraits in year two focused on trans  healthcare, aging, end of life and narrative ethics, identity at the intersection of gender and religion amongst Mexican-American women, and veterans and homelessness.