Initiative for Health, Humanity, and Culture
Housed in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy and the Department of Anthropology at USC, the Initiative for Health, Humanity, and Culture (IHHC) consists of an inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional, and international group of scholars who are interested in exploring the ways in which insights from the Humanities, Biomedicine, and the Social Sciences might mutually inform our understanding of health, well-being, illness, and healing in cultural context. The initiative includes participants from a broad range of disciplines and departments at USC and maintains an ongoing affiliation with the Research Center for Health, Humanity, and Culture at Aarhus University in Denmark. Since its founding in 2000, the IHHC has sponsored a broad range of events including lectures, symposia, and creative performances, and has featured such notable scholars as Jerome Bruner, Mary Katherine Bateson, Jean Lave, Uffe Jensen, Elinor Ochs, and Linda Garro. Additionally, the IHHC, in collaboration with the university, is in the planning stages of developing a Graduate Certificate in Health, Medicine, and Society.
A central focus of the Initiative is fostering an interdisciplinary dialogue as a means to extend traditional biomedical conceptions of health (e.g. "health as absence of disease") to include its narrative, experiential, ethical, and aesthetic dimensions. The Initiative's focus is rooted in the belief that cultural meanings and values, social relationships, aesthetic sensibilities, and economic and political forces each have an important bearing upon how individuals experience health and illness. Scholars participating in the IHHC share an interest in developing insight into the interplay of a broad range of processes influencing individuals' lived experiences of health, illness, and healing.
Viewing health from an interdisciplinary vantage point helps to shed light upon the ways in which health, disease, and disability are made meaningful in social practice. In encouraging interdisciplinary dialogue, the IHHC hopes to foster a mutual enrichment between traditional biomedical approaches to health and those in the humanities and social sciences, and to provide opportunities for further enhancing USC's already highly esteemed and world-renown medical training, clinical, and research programs.