Centre for the Social History of Health & HealthcareHealthy Environments


Healthy Environments: A Medical Humanities Symposium

From antiquity to the present, East to West, people around the world have long understood a symbiotic connection between health and the environment in which they live, work and play. From Hippocrates and Robert Malthus, to Rachel Carson and the ‘era of the Anthropocene’, different concepts, ideas and theories have sought to explain this link on a societal and global scale. The relationship between human health and the natural and urban landscape in which we live, however, has also been negotiated on an individual level in a variety ways and contexts, from the Garden City, healing temple and historic spa town, to the sanatorium, gymnasium and doctor’s waiting room.

This interdisciplinary symposium aims to foreground the cross-cultural history of health and environment. Academic papers are invited from a range of disciplines including medical history, anthropology, art and design history, museum studies and literature to discuss this relationship and how it has intersected concerns such as gender, ethnicity, race, religion, class, citizenship, activism, industrial development and everyday life.

The following questions offer possible discussion points that the symposium hopes to consider:

  • What are healthy and unhealthy environments, and how have understandings changed over time?
  • How has the relationship between human health and planetary health been conceptualised?
  • Why have certain built and natural environments been seen to be curative, whilst others were viewed as harmful?
  • How has the natural environment been used for healing?
  • How have different cultural communities understood the connection between health and landscape differently?
  • In what ways have people understood a connection between human mind, body, spirit and the natural and built environment?

Where and When
The event is funded by the Wellcome Trust and is jointly organised by The David F. Musto Center for Drugs and National Security Studies and The Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare (CSHHH) Glasgow through the Medical Humanities in China and the UK Project.

The event will take place on 30 and 31 March 2020 at Shanghai University.

How to Apply
We look forward to reading your abstracts of 250 words max and a short biographical note. Please send your applications to Chi Chi Huang at chichi.huang@strath.ac.uk by 24th January.  The committee will send out decision notifications during the first week of February.

The following funding package is available for all invited speakers:

  • Travel up to a maximum of £600 for international travel and £150 for travel in China
  • Accommodation and meals for three nights

Symposium Committee

Dr Ved Baruah College of Liberal Arts, Shanghai University
Chi Chi Huang Strathclyde-Shanghai Early Career Medical Humanities Fellow
Peder Clark Strathclyde-Shanghai Early Career Medical Humanities Fellow
Kayleigh Nias Strathclyde-Shanghai Early Career Medical Humanities Fellow