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School of Humanities and Social Sciences News

Thank you to Dr. Jen Erdman (Public History) and Dr. Ryan Schurtz (Psychology) who shared their research at the inaugural HaSS Diverse Perspectives Forum.  This new series creates a space for HaSS faculty members (full-time and part-time) to discuss their research, scholarship, and creative work.  Topics are open and work in progress is particularly welcome.

For our inaugural session, Dr. Erdman talked about teaching critical thinking through the topic of conspiracy theories in her INDSC350 class and Dr. Schurtz shared his experiences writing op-ed pieces for the Baltimore Sun (including useful tips for colleagues interested in exploring this form of publication).  Our March Forum will feature speakers from Human Services and Theatre & Media Performance. 

Jane Austen is 241 years young.  Born December 16, 1775 in a small village in the south of England, she could never have anticipated the fame she would achieve.  One of the pleasures of being a Jane Austen scholar and fan is the wide variety of Austen-related books, toys, and other merchandise that often finds its way into my office, and I will be sharing some of that this semester in anticipation of the many Jane Austen events and celebrations that will be happening around the world as we mark the 200th anniversary of her passing in July of this year.  The most recent addition to my collection is this fun set of Jane Austen magnets, which (correctly) notes that there are few combinations better than a good book and a hot cup of tea.

In the complicated and rapidly-changing world of healthcare, many of us are called upon to be advocates for ourselves and for others.  Having the critical thinking and analytical skills developed through the study of the humanities can help position us for such roles.  This is Emily Michelson's argument in Times Higher Education, where she writes about how her training as a historian helped her to negotiate a hospital stay.  She writes, "From my particular hospital bed, it seemed increasingly, blindingly clear how much humanities and sciences – in this case history and medicine – truly complemented each other."  Interpreting texts and situations, making meaning of ambiguity, and analyzing evidence are all transferable skills that she was able to apply to her situation to become her own advocate and help address some of the challenges she was facing.  Along the way, she also recognized the importance of such critical thinking for doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers.  Seeing the complementary aspects of medicine and the humanities, Michelson notes, can benefit patients and doctors alike.

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