The humanities are about the human experience, and this certificate will give you exposure to a range of historical, cultural, and philosophical reasons why people make decisions about their health care. Everyone who comes in contact with the health care system, from health care providers to patients, needs to understand more than just the biological aspects of medicine in order to support health and wellness.

Learning Goals

After completing the certificate, you will be able to:

  • Identify major developments in the history of medicine and the medical profession
  • Describe how the meaning of “health” has varied over time and space
  • Comprehend and evaluate complex arguments about politics, values, healthcare, and health in contemporary society
  • Understand health and illness as grounded in personal experience, develop empathy for others’ experiences, and use creative means to reflect on those experiences
  • Display sensitivity for what health means among differently positioned people

To learn more about HatH-related resources, events, and opportunities on campus, visit our website.

Am I Eligible?

Undergraduate students from any school or college on the UW–Madison campus are eligible for the health and the humanities (HatH) certificate. The HatH certificate is currently a limited enrollment program.  We encourage students to apply for the certificate as early as possible (after completing a core course).  Students who are enrolled in the global health certificate are not eligible to apply for the HatH certificate.

How can I declare?

In order to declare the health and the humanities certificate, you must:

  1. Be a current undergraduate in any school or college.
  2. Attend a certificate information session.
  3. Complete one of the core courses and earn at least a C.
  4. Submit an application form and essay.  Check our webpage for details about the next application cycle.  
  5. If selected for the program, meet with the certificate advisor to declare the certificate and plan your coursework.

Total Credits Required: 15

Core Course

Select one of the following core courses. You must complete a core course with a C or better before applying to the HatH certificate.

HIST SCI/​MED HIST  133 Biology and Society, 1950 - Today3
HIST SCI/​MED HIST  212 Bodies, Diseases, and Healers: An Introduction to the History of Medicine3
MED HIST/​ANTHRO  231 Introduction to Social Medicine3
ENGL 156 Literature and Medicine3
RELIG ST 102 Exploring Religion in Sickness and Health3

Health and Illness in Social Context

Select two courses with a specific focus on health and illness in social context.

AMER IND/​C&E SOC/​SOC  578 Poverty and Place3
ANTHRO 365 Medical Anthropology3
COM ARTS 317 Rhetoric and Health3
ENGL/​ASIAN AM/​GEN&WS  463 Race and Sexuality in American Literature3
GEN&WS 340 Topics in LGBTQ Sexuality3
GEN&WS 370 Topics in Gender and Disability3
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  519 Sexuality, Modernity and Social Change3
GEN&WS 533 Special Topics in Women and Health3
GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  537 Childbirth in the United States3
JOURN/​COM ARTS/​LSC  617 Health Communication in the Information Age3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  504 Society and Health Care in American History3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  505 Justice and Health Care3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  507 Health, Disease and Healing I3-4
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  508 Health, Disease and Healing II3-4
MED HIST/​HIST SCI  509 The Development of Public Health in America3
MED HIST/​ENVIR ST/​HIST SCI  513 Environment and Health in Global Perspective3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  515 Public Health Ethics3
MED HIST/​AFROAMER/​HIST SCI  523 Race, American Medicine and Public Health3
MED HIST 526 Medical Technology and the Body3
MED HIST/​GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  531 Women and Health in American History3
MED HIST/​GEN&WS/​HIST SCI  532 The History of the (American) Body3
MED HIST 545 Ethical and Regulatory Issues in Clinical Investigation1
MED HIST/​HIST SCI  550 Medical Technologies in Historical Perspective3
MED HIST/​PHILOS  558 Ethical Issues in Health Care3
MED HIST/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY  564 Disease, Medicine and Public Health in the History of Latin America and the Caribbean3
MED HIST/​AGRONOMY/​C&E SOC/​PHILOS  565 The Ethics of Modern Biotechnology3-4
S&A PHM/​CLASSICS/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY/​MED HIST  561 Greek and Roman Medicine and Pharmacy3
S&A PHM/​HIST SCI/​HISTORY/​MED HIST/​MEDIEVAL  562 Byzantine Medicine and Pharmacy3
SOC/​C&E SOC  532 Health Care Issues for Individuals, Families and Society3
SOC/​C&E SOC  533 Public Health in Rural & Urban Communities3
SOC 575 Sociological Perspectives on the Life Course and Aging3

Cultural Competency

Select one course aimed at understanding the social, cultural, and linguistic needs of patients.

AFRICAN 201 Introduction to African Literature3
AFRICAN 211 The African Autobiography3
AFRICAN 230 Introduction to Yoruba Life and Culture3
AFRICAN 231 Introduction to Arabic Literary Culture3
AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI  297 African and African-American Linkages: An Introduction4
AFRICAN/​LCA/​RELIG ST  370 Islam: Religion and Culture3-4
AFRICAN 412 Contemporary African Fiction3-4
AFROAMER 151 Introduction to Contemporary Afro-American Society3
AFROAMER 155 They: Race in American Literature3
AFROAMER/​GEN&WS  222 Introduction to Black Women Writers3
AFROAMER 225 Introduction to African American Dramatic Literature3
AFROAMER 227 Masterpieces of African American Literature3
AMER IND 100 Introduction to American Indian Studies3
AMER IND/​HISTORY  490 American Indian History3-4
AMER IND/​HDFS  522 American Indian Families3
ANTHRO 104 Cultural Anthropology and Human Diversity3
ASIAN AM 101 Introduction to Asian American Studies3
ASIAN AM/​AFROAMER/​AMER IND/​CHICLA/​FOLKLORE  102 Introduction to Comparative US Ethnic and American Indian Studies3
ASIAN AM 240 Topics in Asian American Studies3
CHICLA 201 Introduction to Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies3
CHICLA 210 Chicana/o and Latina/o Cultural Studies3
CHICLA/​COM ARTS  347 Race, Ethnicity, and Media3
COM ARTS 565 Communication and Interethnic Behavior3
GEN&WS 101 Gender, Women, and Cultural Representation3
GEN&WS 102 Gender, Women, and Society in Global Perspective3
GEN&WS/​HISTORY  315 Gender, Race and Colonialism3
GEN&WS/​AFROAMER  323 Gender, Race and Class: Women in U.S. History3
GEN&WS/​CHICLA  332 Latinas: Self Identity and Social Change3
RELIG ST 101 Religion in Global Perspective3
RELIG ST 271 Religion in History and Culture: The West3
SOC 125 American Society: How It Really Works3-4
SOC 134 Sociology of Race & Ethnicity in the United States3-4
SOC 138 The Sociology of Gender3-4
SOC/​GEN&WS  200 Introduction to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ Studies3-4
SOC/​ASIAN AM  220 Ethnic Movements in the United States3-4
SOC/​GEN&WS  611 Gender, Science and Technology3
SOC/​C&E SOC/​URB R PL  617 Community Development3
SOC/​C&E SOC  623 Gender, Society, and Politics3


You can fulfill the capstone requirement either by completing HIST SCI/​ENGL/​MED HIST  525 Health and the Humanities, or by completing a health-focused service learning course.

HIST SCI/​ENGL/​MED HIST  525 Health and the Humanities3
NURSING 511 Community Supports for People with Dementia2
DANCE 331 Dynamics of Dance Therapy3
RP & SE 300 Individuals with Disabilities3

residence and quality of work

8 credits counting toward the certificate must be taken in residence.

2.000 cumulative GPA on all courses counting toward the certificate 


This undergraduate certificate must be completed concurrently with the student’s undergraduate degree. Students cannot delay degree completion to complete the certificate.

1. Identify major developments in the history of medicine and the medical profession.

2. Describe how the meaning of “health” has varied over time and space.

3. Comprehend and evaluate complex arguments about politics, values, healthcare, and health in contemporary society.

4. Understand health and illness as grounded in personal experience, develop empathy for others’ experiences and use creative means to reflect on those experiences.

5. Develop sensitivity for what health means among differently positioned people (e.g., with respect to race, class, gender, culture, disability, age).

To learn more about the HatH advisor or schedule an appointment, visit advising and careers on our website.

Certificate Director: Nicole Nelson, History

Certificate Co-Director: Judith Houck, Medical History and Bioethics

Certificate Steering Committee:

  • Monique Allewaert, English
  • Lisa Bratzke, School of Nursing
  • Anthony Cerulli, Asian Languages and Cultures
  • Jenell Johnson, Communication Arts
  • Neil Kodesh, History
  • Susan Lederer, Medical History and Bioethics
  • Susan Nelson, Gender and Women's Studies
  • Corrie Norman, Religious Studies
  • Karen Redfield, English
  • Dija Selimi, Center for Pre‐Health Advising
  • Anne Vila, French and Italian
  • Claire Wendland, Anthropology
  • Sunny Yudkoff, Center for Jewish Studies