Medical Anthropology is concerned with the social determinates of health and disease, including poverty, social inequality, race and class. It investigates how developments in science and technology are altering the delivery of medical care around the world and expectations about health, treatment and the life span. Anthropological research increases our understanding of health-related beliefs and behaviors of all kinds. It has both theoretical and practical utility and addresses the work and politics of health care institutions, the impacts of violence and disruption on health and well-being, pain, suffering and care, and ethical dimensions of cultural life. The Medical Anthropology Doctoral Program at UCSF has three primary missions:
Founded in 1930, making it the second-oldest history of medicine department in the United States, the History of Health Sciences graduate program is concerned with the historical development of medical practices, disease categories, biomedical technologies, and healthcare systems. With an emphasis on modern (late nineteenth to twenty-first century) American and European contexts, our faculty and students investigate how medicine, health, and illness are historically perceived, and how these perceptions reflect and shape culture and society. Examining the role of the patient, provider, institution, and state in healthcare systems, the program provides students the ability to understand how medical ideas and practices have been deployed and negotiated in different historical contexts. History of Health Sciences offers two degree programs:
The Medical Humanities provide an interdisciplinary and interprofessional approach to investigating and understanding the profound effects of illness and disease on patients, health professionals, and the social worlds in which they live and work. In contrast to the medical sciences, the medical humanities – which include narrative medicine, history of medicine, culture studies, science and technology studies, medical anthropology, ethics, economics, philosophy and the arts (literature, film, visual art) – focus more on meaning making than measurement. This cross-disciplinary area of activity engages healthcare professionals and students across the campus (in medicine, basic science, and social sciences and humanities) to offer elective courses, supervision for independent elective study, public talks, publishing scholarship, and public outreach.