Georgetown College is offering new undergraduate course opportunities in American Sign Language and interdisciplinary studies for the Spring 2020 semester as well as developing a new medical humanities major to possibly launch in coming years.
Upcoming spring one-credit courses “Living and Dying,” “Medical Non-Fiction and Journalism” and “Medicine and Mystery” will preview the medical humanities major, according to Daniel Marchalik (GRD ’16), director of the literature and medicine track at the Georgetown University Medical Center and collaborator on the new undergraduate major. The interdisciplinary medical humanities major would place medical studies within a historical literature and cultural context.
Marchalik will serve as a professor for the “Medicine and Mystery” course. He completed his surgical residency at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital while obtaining a master’s degree in literature. Combining the disciplines of literature and medicine with the new major would catalyze a dialogue between medical and college students at Georgetown, he said.
“It is my vision to create more opportunities for this type of interdisciplinary work,” Marchalik wrote in an email to The Hoya. “As such, these courses are designed to have both medical students and college students in the same room, taking the same course work.”
The medical humanities major would use social science and humanities to better comprehend medicine, according to Lakshmi Krishnan, a diagnostician at Johns Hopkins University and an affiliate professor of English in the College.
“Medical humanities is the growing interdisciplinary field which puts medicine back into its social, historical, and cultural context,” Krishnan wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It encompasses the humanities and social sciences, and argues that the methods of the humanities and social sciences should be used to understand, critique, and enhance medical practice.”
Faculty and deans from the Medical Center and the College met consistently to develop new courses, according to Sue Lorenson, vice dean for undergraduate education.
“Medical Humanities is an example of a boundary-crossing initiative,” Lorenson wrote in an email to The Hoya. “How might the study of the humanities, in all of its forms, inform the study of medicine, and vice-versa?”
The university will also offer a new three-credit interdisciplinary course in the Maker Hub titled “Making Matters.” Students who take the class will engage both with their classmates and the Maker Hub tools, according to the Maker Hub manager Don Undeen.
Students have been able to utilize the Maker Hub on the first floor of Lauinger Library to explore personal and academic creative projects since 2016. The space features tools ranging from 3D printers to sewing machines to power drills.
The layout of the Maker Hub, with tools along the perimeter and a long central table, will be conducive to interdisciplinary work, according to Undeen.
“It’s about the impact of making culture, and learning about how to use the tools of the space,” Undeen said in an interview with The Hoya. “We’ll be thinking more reflectively about what makerspaces mean in the broader context of global impact.”
New one-credit classes including “History of the Book,” which will examine the evolution of the printing process, and “Digital Research Methods,” designed to introduce students to new research techniques, will also be offered in partnership with Lauinger Library.
Georgetown has also partnered with with Gallaudet University, a local university in Washington, D.C., for the deaf and hard of hearing, to expand ASL programming. Currently, ASL I and ASL II courses are offered on campus and taught by visiting Gallaudet professors.
Next semester, Georgetown students can take higher level ASL classes directly at Gallaudet, according to Sylvia Wing Önder, professor in the department of Arabic and Islamic studies and director of small program languages.
“We wanted to bring the opportunity to more Georgetown students,” Önder wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Students who want to continue to upper levels of ASL are able to go to more classes at Gallaudet through the Consortium arrangement.”
The past arrangement with Gallaudet has been popular among students, and the expanded programming will give students more chances to improve their ASL skills, according to Lorenson.
“It’s my sense that this has been a great success; our friends at Gallaudet have been extremely generous with their time (including travel time) and our students have filled the classes,” Lorenson wrote.
This article was updated Nov. 7 to reflect the timeline of the launch of the medical humanities major and to clarify that the Georgetown College will oversee new programming.