The Ackerman Program on Medicine & Culture was established in 2004 to enhance research and teaching devoted to the study of the culture of medicine.  It fosters collaborations across the wide spectrum of disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that have studied medicine and patient care.  Interest in this project has grown quickly as scholars recognize the value of taking medicine as their object of study, and as clinicians recognize the ways in which the arts, humanities, and social sciences can enhance their work with patients.  Harvard already hosts substantial research, advocacy, and activism in these domains across its many schools, departments, and hospitals.  The Ackerman Program seeks to draw these people and programs together to enhance the work of physicians and faculty and to educate students about the inter-disciplinary facets of the physician-patient relationship.  It supports events and discussions at both Harvard Medical School and the University’s Cambridge campus.

Some of the topics to be explored include:

  • Historical perspectives on health and disease
  • The social impact of new medical and scientific knowledge on practices
      and outcomes
  • Humanistic and ethical perspectives on patient-healer relationships
  • Global and cross-cultural perspectives on health and medicine
  • Literary and artistic depictions of medicine and the experience of disease

  • Moral development and medical professionalism

Harvard Courses related to the Culture of Medicine
2015-2016 Courses

(list can be sorted by using the drop-down arrows in the heading row of the spreadsheet)


The A. Bernard Ackerman Endowment for the Culture of Medicine established a professorship and supports a wide range of activities that encourage collaboration among the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Harvard Medical School (HMS), and other departments throughout the University.




Department of the History Science

1 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Department of Global Health and
Social Medicine

641 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115