Past Events

  • Managing the Therapeutic Illusion in Medicine

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    Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 5:00pm
    • Topics in Medical Ethics Lecture Series
    David Casarett, MD, MA, Chief of Palliative Care, Professor of Medicine, Duke University/Duke Health

    Decades of psychology experiments have shown that we tend to overestimate our influence over events.  In medicine, this illusion of control is a “therapeutic illusion,” which can lead health care providers to recommend burdensome therapies, and to pursue aggressive treatment beyond the point at which it offers meaningful benefit.

    See video recording.

  • The Search for Beauty at the End of Life

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    Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Haider Warraich, MD, Cardiovascular Medicine, Duke University Medical Center

    Over the past century, death has become dying – a prolonged phase of life rather than a singular event. Yet the extensive public discussion around this topic has often failed to take into account the existence of beauty at the end of life. As patients and their families struggle amidst what is often a jarring and lonely experience, learning to attend to the presence of beauty can help patients, caretakers, and health professionals achieve a meaningful end.

    See video recording.

  • Can We Just Say "No"? The Challenges of Health Care Rationing

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    Wednesday, December 7, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Philip M. Rosoff, MD, MA, Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, Duke University School of Medicine

    One of the major challenges associated with deciding where to place boundary lines between what should be offered in a health care system and what should not is deciding what to use as a metric or marker to distinguish one from the other.  In this talk I will discuss how this could be accomplished in an ethically justifiable manner that potentially solves what I have called the “cutoff problem.”  

    See video recording.

  • HIV/AIDS and Global Health: From the Global History of HIV/AIDS to its Lived Experience in North Carolina

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    Wednesday, November 30, 2016 - 3:00pm to 6:00pm
    Maria de Bruyn, medical anthropologist; Alicia Diggs, HIV/AIDS advocate and educator; Kelley Swain, poet and writer

    Free and open to the public

    This special World AIDS Day event will feature a keynote address by medical anthropologist  Maria de Bruyn, and a lecture by poet and writer Kelley Swain.

  • Diabetes and Big Data: Why Medical History Matters for Machine Learning

    Wednesday, October 19, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Joanna Radin, PhD - History of Medicine, Yale School of Medicine


    In this talk, Professor Radin will consider the hidden medical and colonial history of the Pima Indian Diabetes Data Set (PIDD) to offer a new perspective on important debates over open access, compensation, participation and the nature of knowledge made from "big data."

    See video recording.


  • Spirituality in Healthcare: Just Because It May Be "Made Up" Does Not Mean That It Is Not Real

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    Tuesday, October 4, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    John Swinton, PhD, Chair in Divinity and Religious Studies, University of Aberdeen


    This presentation explores the extraordinarily diverse concept of “spirituality,” specifically as it relates to healthcare practices. It will suggest that there is no such thing as spirituality. It certainly exists insofar as people use the language of spirituality. But it is not “real” in the way that we might consider a table, a chair or a tree to be real. Rather it is a ‘made up’ concept invented by healthcare researchers and practitioners and intended to help us to think about certain things about human beings and human living that, arguably, have been forgotten by current healthcare systems.

    See video recording.

  • Free Film Screening: Being Mortal

    Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 6:30pm
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    *Registration is required. Currently full; waiting list available.

    Be a part of a national dialogue that asks the question “Have you and your family had the tough conversations and planned ahead?” The documentary film Being Mortal delves into the hopes...

  • 2016 Nancy Weaver Emerson Lectureship

    Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 5:45pm
    Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD is Associate Professor of Medicine, New York University School of Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. This lecture will be held in the Great Hall, Trent Semans Center for Health Education, Duke University. It is free and open to the public. A reception will follow.

    Free parking for the Emerson Lecture is available after 5:00pm in a garage adjacent to the Trent Semans Center, the Bryan Research Building Garage...

  • Conference on Emerging Models of Healthcare

    Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 12:30pm to Friday, April 8, 2016 - 2:30pm
    Recent shifts in health care financing, governance, and information management have profoundly shaped the ways health practitioners and patients interact with one another, often leaving both deeply unsatisfied. This conference examined diverse models of clinical care that respond to these shifts, to identify constructive ways forward that meet the needs of both patients and practitioners.


    Hosted by Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine at the Duke School of Medicine

    For information, visit the conference website. Recordings of conference talks will be posted soon.

  • Medicine and Morally Messy Relationships

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    Tuesday, March 29, 2016 - 12:00pm
    • Humanities in Medicine Lecture
    Kimberley Brownlee, DPhil, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Warwick

    Medical professionals play a significant role in forging, severing, and reshaping people’s intimate associations when they provide services such as abortion, IVF, sex reassignment surgery, surrogacy, and separating conjoined twins. Given the moral complexity of some types of intimate...