The Department of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University's (Penn State) College of Medicine, created at the founding of the College in 1967, was the first of its kind at any medical school. This article begins by describing how the department has developed over the years, and then discusses its present configuration, including kinds of faculty appointments, information about how it is funded, specific courses that comprise the department's four-year curriculum, and activities it sponsors. That a College of Medicine would make the teaching and practice of humanistic medicine a major and explicit commitment attracted the notice of Drs. Lawrence and Jane Kienle, who made possible the Doctors Kienle Center for Humanistic Medicine. The Humanities Department is closely allied with the Doctors Kienle Center, which integrates the College and the Medical Center by supporting a variety of projects, research, and awards that further the teaching and practice of humanistic medicine. Faculty in the department are encouraged to demonstrate excellence in scholarship and in teaching, but are also expected to become engaged in the life of the Medical Center, especially in furthering humanistic patient care. As such, the Humanities Department plays a major role in furthering the mission of the Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine.
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