Five College Consortium

Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science

Dr. Rafael Campo presents: "Cultural Competence: Poetry and the Importance of Voice in Diverse Illness Experiences"

forest of proffered flowering books

Save the date! Physician-poet Rafael Campo '87, who currently teaches at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, will be lecturing on the Amherst College campus November 10th, at 5:00pm in Converse Hall. He will be reflecting over the parallels between poetry and healing, as well as related themes such as social determinants of health, cross-cultural awareness, and end-of-life issues. This lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Campo teaches and practices general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is the author of six volumes of poetry, including Alternative Medicine (2013), and two volumes of essays, The Desire to Heal (1997) and The Healing Art (2003). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and two Lambda Literary Awards, among numerous honors for his poetry and for outstanding humanism in medicine.

The Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science (CHS) is a certificate program that allows students an opportunity to explore human health, disease and healing from an interdisciplinary perspective. CHS recognizes that the study of any aspect of health requires theoretical frameworks and research strategies that integrate physical, political, psychological and socio-cultural elements of human experience. Students in this rigorous program thus design a plan of study that links the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities. 

Completing a CHS certificate provides students a solid liberal arts background and equips them with a range of tools to think cross-culturally about health issues. Students will learn, for example, to:

  • Recognize historical patterns of intervention and disease transmission
  • Be media literate and assess various forms of technological advancement for health
  • Navigate healthcare systems and be an advocate for themselves and others 
  • Recognize important contributions from multiple disciplines in the realm of health promotion, disease eradication and global health

It is increasingly clear that the best health practitioners, researchers and policy analysts need to understand how behavior influences disease distribution, how biomedical categories change across time and culture and how political and socioeconomic factors are integral to both intervention protocols and the manifestation of disease. They also must understand how to interpret and communicate research results to audiences of policy makers and to the general public.

The interdisciplinary CHS training is aimed at developing the above skills. CHS students take courses in a range of fields, are exposed to a variety of scholars and practitioners across the Five Colleges and beyond and conduct an independent capstone project to bring these experiences together. For those who plan to pursue advanced degrees, graduate programs and medical schools are giving greater attention to interdisciplinary training, recognizing that tomorrow's health experts will need to know how to link their understandings of history, culture and behavior with clinical and epidemiologic models of health and disease. Faculty and students alike are enriched by the connections and interdisciplinary collaborations that the Culture, Health, and Science program fosters—locally and internationally. Get on board!

For more information:

Learn more about the certificate academic requirements.

Download the CHS certificate declaration of interest form.

Download the CHS certificate requirements checklist.

See a list of CHS advisors by campus

Learn more about the CHS Steering Committee