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Institute of the History, Theory and Ethics of Medicine


The Institute of the History, Theory and Ethics of Medicineat Giessen University is dedicated to teaching and research in the history of medicine and health, combined with allied approaches from the broad spectrum of medical humanities: anthropology, philosophy, ethics and cultural studies. 

In our work, we are using approaches from historiography, cultural studies and social sciences to advance research and critical thinking regarding medicine, health and wellbeing. We have a particular interest in international and intercultural approaches to health and share a strong commitment to equity, justice and human rights. 

The range of activities in our department includes research in the history of medicine, with a particular focus on the history of psychiatry, human experimentation, and as an area of specific relevance: medicine during National Socialism and the Holocaust (Prof. V. Roelcke). A second and strongly related research area is the history and contemporary reality of social medicine and human rights-based approaches to health, with a special interest in indigenous populations (Latin America) and migration (Prof. M. Knipper).

In teaching, we offer various courses throughout the medical curriculum, including lectures and seminars on the history, theory and ethics of medicine in the core curriculum. Special teaching projects are the seminar „medicine on the fringe of society“, addressing the health of homeless people and the contexts of support provision, and the award-winning special track curriculum on global health. In cooperation with the Institute of German Literature, School of Cultural Studies, we also organize regular interdisciplinary events on „medicine and literature“, including author readings. Together with the Giessen University Schools of Law, Educational Studies and further departments, we offer an interdisciplinary teaching program on migration and human rights.

Members of the institute are engaged in multiple working groups and commissions, including the Lancet Commission on Medicine and the Holocaust (V. Roelcke) and the global initiative Lancet Migration (M. Knipper).