RCCORE 100 - First Year Seminar
Section: 002 The Limits of Medicine
Term: WN 2009
Subject: RC Core Courses (RCCORE)
Department: LSA Residential College
Requirements & Distribution:
With permission of instructor.
Advisory Prerequisites:
SWC Writing Assessment. Only first-year students, including those with sophomore standing, may pre-register for First-Year Seminars. All others need permission of instructor.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In this seminar we will examine western understandings of health and disease in the light of other cultural traditions of health and healing. We will first study the concepts, assumptions, and methodologies that underlie western science and modern biomedicine, as well as their implications for practitioners and patients. In turn, we will spend time examining philosophies and practices of the classical, centuries-old medical systems of India and Tibet. To what extent can we understand such very different, so-called “eastern,” approaches to health and medical practice? Will current revolutions in fields such as molecular genetics, immunology, and neurobiology serve to further separate or bring together modern and age-old understandings of health and healing? Can one tradition inform another? Our perceptions of ourselves as humans are profoundly influenced by what happens in the realms of science and medicine. This seminar proposes that a study of the medical and healing traditions that we call “western and eastern” will help to inform us, and allow us to explore the larger cultural paradigms that help define modern worldviews. Articles, essays, books, films and guest speakers will form a rich context for discussions and writing. Writing assignments will include weekly papers (with an emphasis on revision), frequent commentary papers, and symposia and presentations at the end of the term.

Required books: (all paperbacks):

  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Anne Fadiman (1997)
  • The Lost Art of Healing, Bernard Lowe, MD (1999)
  • Genome, Matt Ridley (2006)
  • In Search of the Medicine Buddha, David Crow (2000)
  • Course Packs of required articles (Parts 1 and 2)

RCCORE 100 - First Year Seminar
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
7RC Ugrd
TuTh 3:00PM - 5:00PM
002 (SEM)
3RC Ugrd
MW 3:00PM - 4:30PM
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