Medical and Health Humanities


Medical and Health Humanities

About our Low-Residency Program

Humanizing medicine and care by fostering moral practices and institutions is the mission of the low-residency Medical & Health Humanities program at Drew University. Created almost three decades ago, our certificate, master’s and professional doctorate were a first of its kind and continue to innovate and serve local, national, and internationally based care contexts. These degrees meet the growing need for advanced training in health humanities, care ethics, health policy, contemplative care, and narrative medicine. Robustly interdisciplinary, the program encourages explorations of issues and concerns that give expression to the human being as an entangled being, part of complex moral, natural, and socio-political ecologies that impact our health and well-being.

The curriculum integrates academic inquiry and professional experience to prepare students for careers throughout the healthcare industry, community care settings and beyond. Professionals serve as clinical or public health ethics consultants, moral case facilitators, policymakers, applied and humanities researchers, administrators, leaders of initiatives that foster health and well-being, or work as care professionals in education, health care and social care settings.

Program Requirements

Certificate in Medical Humanities (15 credits)

Requires the completion of five courses. Four of the courses (Medical and Health Humanities Seminar, Medical Humanities Practicum, Biomedical Ethics, and Introduction to Narrative Medicine) are mandatory. The remaining course may be taken as an elective.

Master of Arts in Medical Humanities, Health and Society (30 credits)

Requires the completion of nine courses plus thesis, or if on the non-thesis track, a total of eleven courses. Five courses are required. The remaining courses are taken as seminar electives.

Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities (45 credits)

Requires the completion of twelve courses. Seven courses are required. The remaining five courses are taken as seminar electives. All Doctor of Medical and Health Humanities students must prepare and successfully defend a nine-credit doctoral dissertation of 150-220 pages.

Contemplative Professional Certificate

For professionals—in and outside health care—who want to transform caring for others and themselves
from a place of joy, inspiration, and reflective knowing. At Drew, we value mindful learning and embodied approaches to
knowing. You will learn new ways to listen to your clients, colleagues, and yourself.

Our Program Director

Dr. Merel Visse

Director of Medical and Health Humanities
Associate Professor

Merel Visse’s work contemplates and advocates the humanities, the arts, and care.  It is embedded in the interdisciplinary fields of the health and medical humanities, care ethics and research and qualitative and artistic approaches to inquiry. She argues the arts are not only nice, but necessary to understand the human experience of care. Aesthetic experience seriously impacts our lives and understanding what care is and can be, and aesthetic literacy is as important as the ability to read and write. In her research, Merel examines how we can assist professionals and students to perceive better, to improve judgements, and with that, foster good care, sensible communities, and a just society.

Merel’s work builds bridges between the everyday lived experiences of people and the socio-political realm of public issues. She follows a dialectic approach to research that is both responsive and critical. On the one hand, this approach involves being receptive to the movements that occur in everyday situations of care, and on the other hand a critical analysis of ideological and theoretical concepts that inform the concept of care. Care research is not only seen as a deliberate act of analysis in order to produce knowledge, but also as an event that requires a praxis of unknowing by living one’s questions real time.

Merel works post-disciplinary and serves multiple roles: creating intersections between a diverse set of disciplines and affiliated communities such as health institutions, art schools and public health settings. At Drew, she works as the Director of Medical and Health Humanities at the Caspersen School of Graduate Studies. She is also an Associate Professor at the Care Ethics group of the University of Humanistic Studies. She serves on the editorial board of Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics and Education, and together with colleagues, she facilitates the Art & Care Sessions.

She draws upon her prior experience with the coordination and execution of complex evaluation and qualitative inquiry projects, as well as the acquisition of grants. She is a published author of peer reviewed articles in impact-factor journals and several books . She is a regular speaker at conferences and facilitates labs and workshops.

For up-to-date news, her inspirations and background, please visit

Feel free to contact Merel at: