Spirituality and Healing in Medicine

Site: Harvard Medical School
Course Directors: Michael D'Ambra and John Peteet
Description: This course provides students with a framework for understanding the spiritual dimension of issues they will confront in the practice of medicine. These include patients' struggles with questions of faith, spiritual approaches to problems such as life threatening illness or addiction, and the personal commitments that underline professionalism. Faculty will offer a model approaching these issues, lead discussion using clinical examples, and facilitate opportunities for extra- classroom experiences, such as working with a hospital chaplain or with spiritual or faith-based programs of healing. Invited presentations from chaplains, clergy and physicians will explore the implications for medicine of various religious and secular traditions, and issues surrounding the role of the clinician in responding to spiritual needs. They will also serve as resources for presentations by students to the class.

Spirituality, Religion, and Psychiatry
Site: Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program
Course Director: John Peteet
Description: Beginning with a John Templeton Foundation curriculum award in 1998, this course, co-led by John Peteet and Mary McCarthy, has since been part of the required curriculum or PGY IV residents in the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program. The course aims to help residents better understand the role that spirituality and religion play in their patients’ lives, and their own role in dealing with religious and spiritual aspects of the problems that bring them to treatment. In addition to standard sessions on spirituality from a scientific perspective, the formation and implications of the individual’s representation of God and a framework for approaching spirituality in practice, each year residents choose to invite outside presenters on topics such as cults, Pentecostalism, Haitian or Muslim or Buddhist spirituality, and spiritual care at the end of life. Residents also interview a patient whose spirituality is an important part of the treatment, and present their own cases for class discussion, as they are directed toward relevant literature and encouraged to reflect on their own spirituality.

Religion and Public Health
Site: Harvard School of Public Health
Course Director: Tyler VanderWeele
Description: This course will begin to be offered in 2015. The course will explore the relationship between religion, spirituality, and public health, particularly engaging epidemiological research involving religion and spirituality. 

Spirituality and Health Care: Institutional and Personal Reflection and Spiritual Formation
: Harvard Medical School
Course Directors: Michael Balboni, Tracy Balboni
Description: Will be offered beginning in Spring 2016. The course’s three aims are 1) to orient students to perceive the institutional and socialization processes within health care using a spiritual lens that considers theological resources, 2) to reflect on the moral and spiritual transformations experienced during the course of healthcare training, and 3) to assist students in imagining and implementing a healer’s lifestyle that is grounded within values revealed in the student’s own spiritual tradition. By creating a cohesive, intensive one month experience, students will be challenged through a variety of readings (historical, empirical, philosophical, and theological), interdisciplinary guest presentations, seminar discussions, patient case studies, individual reflective journaling, participation in spiritual practices, and clinical chaplaincy experiences to reflect on their healthcare training experience and who they might inspire to be as future healers.

Compassionate Care of the Dying: Buddhist Training and Techniques
Site: Harvard Divinity School
Course Directors: Cheryl A. Giles, Chris Berlin
Description: Asian Buddhist teachers and clerics have long had a key role in helping others prepare for death. This course will explore the compassionate care of the dying as it is being adapted in modern contexts in the US, using the training model for professionals engaged in end-of-life care contexts developed by Roshi Joan Halifax. Students will develop an understanding of basic skills in compassionate care of the dying and innovative approaches in psychological and spiritual care through readings, meditative exercises, and discussion with guest speakers in the course.

Advanced Spiritual Counseling: Taking Care of Others, Taking Care of Self
Site: Harvard Divinity School
Course Director: Cheryl Giles
Description: This course is designed to explore the various roles and boundaries that chaplains and ministers must negotiate in providing spiritual care to others and healthy self-care. Case presentation, group process, and readings will be used to increase skill level and to clarify roles. Two key questions will frame our discussions: (1) How can we participate in the healing process of others? and (2) How does race, gender, social location, sexual orientation and religion/spirituality affect our ability to function effectively as caregivers? 

Prophetic Medicine: Islam and Medicine in the Middle East
Site: Harvard Divinity School
Course Director: Ahmed Ragab
Description: Prophetic Medicine (al-Tibb al-Nabawi) was an important genre of literature from the ninth century on, where scholars interpreted many of Muhammad's traditions and reports about his life to discern methods and tools of medical practice and treatment. Moreover, many of these traditions were used to provide instructions about the ethics and legal questions pertained to medical practice. This prophetic corpus interacted with the dominant Galenic medical practice in pre-modern Middle East and then with the modern Western medicine in the modern and contemporary Middle East creating important questions and significant discussion.The course will trace the development of prophetic medicine across history and analyze its role and importance in the evolving relation between Islam and medicine through history. Note: Course has additional hour to be arranged. Course is expected to be offered Spring 2016.

Crusades, Plagues and Hospitals: Medicine, Religion and Society in the Medieval Mediterranean
Site: Harvard Divinity School
Course Director: Ahmed Ragab
Description: The arrival of the Crusading armies to the Eastern shores of the Mediterranean was a remarkable event in the history of the Middle East and Europe, which led to a sea of changes over three centuries, during which the Latin crusaders ruled over most of the Levant. During alternating periods of war and peace, a new order emerged and new societies came to life representing the connections, exchanges and wounds of contact with the other, who was always redefined along several political and religious factors. Medicine was not only another scientific activity in these changing societies, but also a practice at the intersection of religion, charity, politics and science. Surgeons were dealing with the fallen soldiers and the victims of the long wars, physicians were treating poor pilgrims and victims of epidemics, and tending to the nobility and the high classes, hospitals were being built by Muslim rulers and by the crusading military orders and capable physicians were dispatched as ambassadors of good will. In this world, medicine was recast as a social and scientific practice reflecting the changing culture and the growing society. This course traces the story of the crusades from a cultural and social perspective, lending a careful ear to the society, its changes and its development and taking medicine as a lens to see and to analyze the cultural, religious and scientific life of the Middle East; with its Latin, Byzantine and Islamic domains, from the eleventh to the thirteenth century. Course is expected to be offered Fall 2015.

Quests for Wisdom: Religious, Moral and Aesthetic Experiences in the Art of Living
Site: Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Course Directors: Arthur Kleinman, David Carrasco
Description: New interdisciplinary curriculum centered on 5 kinds of quests for wisdom that involve moral, religious and aesthetic pursuits and that focus on practices of mentoring and caregiving. Students will engage in short lectures, interactive discussions, student led seminars, and music and film. Students' required projects include a personal story that narrates an experience in the art of living and writing assignments that focus on assisting and accompanying experiences of others.

Case Studies in the Medical Humanities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Experience of Illness and Healing
Site: Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Course Directors: Arthur Kleinman, David Shumway Jones
Description: Disease and healing pose pragmatic and moral challenges for individuals and societies. Artists and writers have struggled to make sense of these tragic and transcendent experiences through fiction, poetry, art, and music. Scholars can explore these archives of the illness experience to understand not just disease and medicine but also what it means to be human. This interdisciplinary course examines how the medical humanities can change how we think about suffering, resilience, and care-giving, an endeavor relevant to anyone who expects to encounter these problems in life (i.e., everyone). In 2014 the course will focus on death and dying. Future offerings will address epidemics, chronic disease, mental illness, or caregiving.