Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 461–471 | Cite as

Science, Technology, and Human Health: The Value of STS in Medical and Health Humanities Pedagogy

  • Julia KnopesEmail author


As the number of medical and health humanities degree programs in the United States rapidly increases (Berry, Lamb and Jones 2016, 2017), it is especially timely to consider the range of specific disciplinary (and multidisciplinary) perspectives that might benefit students enrolled in these programs. This paper discusses the inclusion of one such perspective from the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS.) The author asserts that STS benefits students in the medical and health humanities in four particular ways, by: (1) challenging the “progress narrative” around the advancement of biomedicine as scientific practice, (2) evaluating the meaning of technology, especially in how technology orients us towards sickness and how health technology is in turn shaped by social and cultural values, (3) assessing the plurality of biomedical epistemologies, rather than assuming biomedicine is one, cohesive body of knowledge that does not differ across contexts, and (4) critiquing bias in biomedical practice and science, especially in the marginalization of women’s voices and in the racial and postcolonial trajectories of contemporary biomedicine. The paper discusses the theoretical importance of these four trajectories to the medical and health humanities, as well as the venues for inclusion of STS within coursework and programming at Case Western Reserve University. The paper also comments on how programming at other institutions might be adapted to incorporate STS scholarship. By drawing on numerous examples of research in the anthropology, sociology, history, and the philosophy of science, this article seeks to open a conversation about the value of science and technology studies to health humanities pedagogy.


Medical Health Humanities Science Technology Interdisciplinarity Pedagogy Programming STS Anthropology History Philosophy Education Curriculum Instruction 



1 These terms are sometimes used interchangeably or in conjunction with each other. Here I use the terms as follows: interdisciplinary means to integrate at least two disciplines, multidisciplinary refers to collaboration between numerous disciplines, and transdisciplinary is scholarship and research that transcends or even subverts traditional disciplinary boundaries.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Medicine, Department of Bioethics (Sears TA200)Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA
  2. 2.Case Western Reserve University School of MedicineClevelandUSA

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