CCHU9019 Arts and Humanities
From Health to Well-being

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • The Human Life Span (HL)

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of oral and digital communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

To examine health in its truest sense, one must explore beyond the limits of medicine to engage a much wider set of questions embracing social, cultural, political, economic, moral and spiritual aspects of human experience. The aim of this course is for students to gain greater insight into the multi-dimensional aspects of health and to develop a more holistic and humanistic appreciation of health in both a personal and societal context. The course will encourage students to look critically at various models of health, to understand the complexities of health-related behaviours and to appreciate the possible roles played by politico-social forces, cultural change and spiritual disorientation in shaping well-being. The humanistic aspects of health will be examined through an exploration of the winding journey from illness to healing, with illness often being the wake-up call for individuals to re-evaluate the way they approach life and thus inspire questions about self–awareness, self–actualization and spirituality.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain health as a multi-dimensional and dynamic concept, which necessarily integrates individual, societal, biomedical, spiritual, cultural and historical influences, and how this relates to health issues encountered in everyday life.
  2. Assess the inter-relatedness of health perceptions and practices across cultures.
  3. Discuss personal responsibilities towards achieving health in a rational way and how this contributes to the individual, community and global good.
  4. Critically evaluate the meaning of health through the analysis of qualitative and quantitative health information, literary and artistic works and personal introspection.
  5. Use written, oral and visual modalities to effectively communicate concepts related to health and wellbeing.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures / Seminars / Workshops 24
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 24
Assessment: Essay writing 20
Assessment: Group presentation (incl preparation) 34
Assessment: Workshop participation 20
Total: 132

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Essay 20
Project 35
Workshop 15
Tutorial participation 25
In-class participation 5

Required Reading

  • Egnew, T. (2005). The meaning of healing: Transcending suffering. Annals of Family Medicine, 3(1), 255-262.
  • Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. [Chaps. 1–12]
  • Illich, I. (1994, Winter). Brave new biocracy: Health care from womb to tomb. New Perspectives Quarterly, 11(1). [Section on “Hygienic autonomy: A manifesto”]
  • Mehta, N. (2011, January to December). Mind-body dualism: A critique from a health perspective. Mens Sana Monographs, 9(1), 202-209.
  • Mitchell, N. S., Catenacci,  V. A., Wyatt, H. R., Hill, J. O. (2011). Obesity: overview of an epidemic. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 34(4), 717‐732.
  • Porter, R. (Ed.). (1997). Medicine: A history of healing. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble. [Chaps. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 & 8]
  • Singal, J. (2016, March 13). For 80 Years, Young Americans Have Been Getting More Anxious and Depressed, and No One Is Quite Sure Why. New York Magazine.
  • Young, C., & Koopsen, C. (2005). Spirituality, health and healing: An integrative approach. Thorofare, NJ: Slack Incorporated. [Chaps 1, 3 & 5]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.Y. Chen
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9079
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.Y. Chen
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9079
Dr N.L. Ray
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9080