Sample Pathways

Track 1: Healing and the Arts

ANTHRO 82P: The Literature of Psychosis (HUMBIO 162L) (Daniel Mason)
One of the great gifts of literature is its ability to give us insight into the internal worlds of others. This is particularly true of that state clinicians call "psychosis." But psychosis is a complex concept. It can be terrifying and devastating for patients and families, and yet shares characteristics with other, less pathological states, such as mysticism and creativity. How then can we begin to make sense of it? In this course, we will examine the first-hand experience of psychosis. We will approach it from multiple perspectives, including clinical descriptions, works of art, and texts by writers ranging from Shakespeare, to the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, to patients attempting to describe their experience. This class is not only for students thinking of careers in medicine, psychology or anthropology, but also readers and writers interested exploring extraordinary texts. There are no prerequisites necessary; all that is needed is a love of language and a curiosity about the secrets of other minds.

FRENCH 251: Writing, Memory, and the Self (FRENCH 351, ITALIAN 251, ITALIAN 351) (Laura Wittman)
Recent work in psychology and neuroscience emphasizes the narrative quality of the self, as we create it and recreate it through language and writing, shaping memories both personal and historical. This process is circular: we grow into the stories we tell about ourselves, and we tell different stories to fit our changing life experiences. What is the self in the midst of all this? How does it relate to other selves and to the world? This course examines the nature of self, combining the insights of fiction writers (including Luigi Pirandello, Anna Banti, Michel Tournier, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Peter Nádas) with works from philosophy, psychology, medical humanities, and neuroscience (including Edith Wyschogrod, Alexander Nehamas, Ruth Leys, Oliver Sacks). Taught in English.

SOMGEN 203: Literature and Writing for Military Affiliated Students (Jacqueline Genovese)
Who gets to tell a war story? Everyone who is affected by war. So everyone. This class will explore short readings of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction written by veterans or influenced by conflict. We will discuss the importance of war writing as a medium of expression for veterans, a means of understanding and reconciliation for civilians, and the ways it has impacted culture as a whole. The work will include short reading assignments, in-class writing prompts and guest speaker(s), such as General Jim Mattis, veteran writer Hugh Martin and others. There will be a final 1,500-word project. No writing experience required or expected.

FRENCH 62N: Art and Covid: A Health Humanities Perspective (ITALIAN 62N) (Laura Wittman)
How have artists expressed the impact of the pandemic, and the many existential and social issues it has raised? This course examines the art of Covid-19 using the tools of Health Humanities, a relatively new discipline that connects medicine to the arts and social sciences. Key questions include: How has the history of health inequality, both nationally and globally, impacted different communities, and their art, during the pandemic? How does art shape or express diverse cultural understandings of health and illness, medicine and the body, death and spirituality, in response to crisis? How do such understandings directly impact the physical healing but also the life decisions and emotions of individuals, from caregivers to patients? What are the more powerful media images we have seen of the pandemic, of catastrophe or heroic battle? And what are images that have been hidden from us, such as those of dying patients and unbearable grief, which have been largely censored? How do such media choices deeply affect our sense of ourselves as embodied beings, embedded in communities, even as we confront unprecedented events? Materials for this course include art from different media (from poetry and fiction to performance and installation), produced during Covid-19 in mostly Western contexts, in diverse communities and with some forays into the rest of the world. They also include some non-fiction readings from the disciplines Health Humanities draws from, such as history of medicine, anthropology, psychology, sociology, cultural history, media studies, art criticism, and medicine itself. We Students will thus be introduced to basics of health humanities and its methods while addressing the pandemic as a world-changing event, aided by the unique insights of artists. The course will culminate in final projects that present a critical and contextual appreciation of a specific art project created in response to Covid-19; such appreciations may be creative art projects as well, or more analytical, scholarly evaluations. Taught in English.

RELIGST 232: Buddhist Meditation: Ancient and Modern (Paul Harrison)
An exploration of the theory and practice of Buddhist meditation from the time of the Buddha to the modern mindfulness boom, with attention to the wide range of techniques developed and their diverse interpretation. Undergraduates register for 200-level for 5 units. Graduate students register for 300-level for 3-5 units.


Track 2: The Social Context

ANTHRO 186: Culture and Madness: Anthropological and Psychiatric Approaches to Mental Illness (ANTHRO 286, HUMBIO 146, PSYC 286) (Tanya Luhrmann, Daniel Mason)
Unusual mental phenomena have existed throughout history and across cultures. Taught by an anthropologist and psychiatrist, this course explores how different societies construct the notions of "madness": What are the boundaries between "normal" and "abnormal", reason and unreason, mind and body, health and disease?

English 118A: Illness in Literature
This class provides an overview of illness narratives in fiction from the 19th century to the present. We will examine how authors use language, plot, and structure to portray illness and even recreate its sensations within the reader. We will also study how domestic arrangements, art, medicine and technology mediate the experience of disease. Our discussion of fiction will be buttressed by theoretical texts about the function (and breakdown) of language when deployed to describe physical and mental suffering. Finally, we will consider the ethics of writing about illness. What does it mean to find beauty in descriptions of pain? What role can literature play in building empathy for experiences we have not (yet) experienced ourselves?

RELIGST 10N: The Good Death (Anna Bigelow)
We often discuss what makes a 'good life' - that is a life worth living, a life exemplary of one's values and ideals, a life full of meaning. But what makes a 'good death'? Far from being a topic to avoid, ideas of death - what it means, its variations, how it relates to the preceding life, how it should unfold - are rich topics in religion. For religious people, the question of how life is lived in preparation, anticipation, or ignorance of death is often quite central. So, how do religious people imagine what death is and what lies beyond? What guidance exists for the time of death and its aftermath? How is the body understood in relation to death and beyond - and how is it managed? How do the living coexist with the dead in various forms? How do changing ecological and technological concerns shape death practices in the USA and elsewhere? In this class we will explore conceptions of the good death through a variety of religious traditions and perspectives, looking at issues such as the after/next life, death rituals, burial practices, corpses, the holy dead, martyrs, ghosts and spirit guides, and others.

SOC 152: The Social Determinants of Health (SOC 252)
Our social and physical environments are widely recognized as playing a central role in shaping patterns of health and disease within and across populations. Across disciplines, a key question has been: How does the social environment ¿gets under the skin to influence health? In this course, we will explore how social scientists, epidemiologists, public health experts, and physicians tackle this question. Reflecting both qualitative and quantitative approaches, we will draw on literatures in social science, public health, and medicine to understand the processes through which our environments shape health outcomes. We will examine a number of key social determinants of health, wellness and illness. These determinants include socioeconomic status, gender. race/ethnicity, religious affiliation, neighborhoods, environments, social relationships, and health care. We will also discuss a host of mechanisms through which these factors are hypothesized to influence health, such as stress, life 


Track 3: Justice and Policy

ANTHRO 82: Medical Anthropology (ANTHRO 282, HUMBIO 176A) (Angela Garcia)
Emphasis is on how health, illness, and healing are understood, experienced, and constructed in social, cultural, and historical contexts. Topics: biopower and body politics, gender and reproductive technologies, illness experiences, medical diversity and social suffering, and the interface between medicine and science.

ANTHRO 138: Medical Ethics in a Global World: Examining Race, Difference and Power in the Research Enterprise (ANTHRO 238, CSRE 138) (Duana Fullwiley)
This course will explore historical as well as current market transformations of medical ethics in different global contexts. We will examine various aspects of the research enterprise, its knowledge-generating and life-saving goals, as well as the societal, cultural, and political influences that make medical research a site of brokering in need of oversight and emergent ethics. This seminar will provide students with tools to explore and critically assess the various technical, social, and ethical positions of researchers, as well as the role of the state, the media, and certain publics in shaping scientific research agendas. We will also examine how structural violence, poverty, global standing, and issues of citizenship also influence issues of consent and just science and medicine

 AFRICAAM 244: Re(positioning) Disability: Historical, Cultural, and Social Lenses (CSRE 143, EDUC 144, PEDS 246D)
This course is designed to introduce undergraduate students of any major to important theoretical and practical concepts regarding special education, disability, and diversity. This course primarily addresses the social construction of disability and its intersection with race and class through the critical examination of history, law, social media, film, and other texts. Students will engage in reflection about their own as well as broader U.S. discourses moving towards deeper understanding of necessary societal and educational changes to address inequities. Successful completion of this course fulfills one requirement for the School of Education minor in Education.

BIO 103: Human and Planetary Health (BIO 203, MED 103, SOC 103, SUSTAIN 103)
Two of the biggest challenges humanity has to face - promoting human health and halting environmental degradation - are strongly linked. The emerging field of Planetary Health recognizes these inter-linkages and promotes creative, interdisciplinary solutions that protect human health and the health of the ecosystems on which we depend. Through a series of lectures and case-study discussions, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the 'Planetary Health' concept, its foundation, goals, priority areas of action, methods of investigation, and the most relevant immediate challenges.

FEMGEN 144: Gendered Innovations in Science, Medicine, Engineering, and Environment (HISTORY 144) (L. Schiebinger)
HISTORY 44 is offered for 3 units; HISTORY 144 is offered for 5 units.) Explores "Gendered Innovations" or how sex, gender, and intersectional analysis in research spark discovery and innovation. This course focuses on sex and gender, and considers factors intersecting with sex and gender, including age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, educational background, disabilities, etc., where relevant. Section 1 focuses on the history of women in science. Section 2 looks at transforming research institutions. Section 3 explores Gendered Innovations. Topics include historical background, basic concepts, social robots, sustainability, medicine & public health, facial recognition, inclusive crash test dummies, and more. Stanford University is engaged in a multi-year collaboration with the European Commission and the U.S. National Science Foundation project on Gendered Innovations in Science, Health & Medicine, Engineering, and Environment, and this class will contribute that project. The operative questions is: how can intersectional sex and gender analysis lead to discovery and enhance social equalities?

HUMBIO 122A: Health Care Policy and Reform (PUBLPOL 156) (D. Crane)
(HUMBIO students must enroll in HUMBIO 122A. Graduate students must enroll in PUBLPOL 156.) Focuses on U.S. health care policy. Includes comparisons with health care policy in other countries and detailed examinations of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and proposed reforms. Examines health policy efforts at state, local, and local levels. The course includes sessions on effective memo writing as well as presentation and the politics of health policy and reform efforts.