An English Prof and a Pediatrician Walk into a Bar…


Screenshot_1_7_13_10_21_AM-2Today marked the first class of Medicine in the Age of Networked Intelligence, a Rice University course (English 278) that I’m co-teaching with my Medical Futures Lab partner-in-crime, Kirsten Ostherr, PhD.

Our course examines how developments in mobile, social, personal and global health are transforming research, communication, and medical practice.  Topics of focus include social media, mHealth, quantified self, big data, ethics, and the evolving doctor-patient relationship.  The course is open and relevant to any Rice student interested in understanding how culture and health communication have changed in the networked age.

Here’s the best part: a significant portion of the course grade will be dependent upon publicly created content (written and video) and conversation centered on our reading and class discussions.  At the end of the class they will be required to generate a synthesis/summary of their online portfolio.  Some of our students will be attending the Health 2.0 Houston launch to interview some of our local 2.0 luminaries.  Follow their progress on the class Tumblr where their creation, curation and comments will live (look for student posts beginning in about 2 weeks).  And please comment as things evolve.  We’re counting on dialog with you as a means of understanding the emerging role of public thinking.

So what’s a pediatrician doing teaching an English class at Rice University?  And what’s an English Professor doing thinking about technology, media and the future of medicine?  Quite a bit, actually.  We believe that the solutions to medicine’s most pressing issues can be found in the collaborative experiences of non-traditional stakeholders.  This is the thinking behind our Medical Futures Lab, a collaborative project involving Rice University, Baylor College of Medicine and UT Health Science Center.

Wish me luck.  I’ll be writing about my experience teaching college students here, on the Networked Intelligence Tumblr and over on the MFL site.

The woodcut illustration above was created by Matthia Qualle in 1510 and published in 1513.  Latin notations indicate specific areas of the brain and their corresponding senses.  The is in the public domain and is courtesy of the National Library of Medicine.