In 1999, the Association of American Medical Colleges Medical School Objectives Report III defined Spirituality as follows:

Spirituality is recognized as a factor that contributes to health in many persons. The concept of spirituality is found in all cultures and societies. It is expressed in an individual’s search for ultimate meaning through participation in religion and/or belief in God, family, naturalism, rationalism, humanism and the arts. All these factors can influence how patients and health care professionals perceive health and illness and how they interact with one another.

Over the past several decades there has been an increased focus on the use of scientific approaches to analyze the relationship between spirituality and health. This course will examine this relationship from a scientific perspective. We will (a) explore spirituality in the 21st century defining spirituality both conceptually and operationally; (c) examine the scientific research related to spirituality and health; and (d) experience a variety of spiritual practices including meditation, yoga, chanting, journaling etc.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to

• Define spirituality (religion or self help) and explore several forms of modern spirituality

• Investigate the relationship between spirituality and health focusing on the scientific literature

• Experience a variety of spiritual practices including meditation, yoga, chanting etc.

Assignments include:

• Students are expected to attend class regularly and will be graded in part on the quality of class participation.

• Students are required to keep a journal related to the course

• Students will read and critically analyze 6-8 primary research articles

• Students will write short reflections on two books related to spirituality and health

• Students will complete a Group Presentation

Readings include:

Articles from current scientific literature (both review articles and primary research) related to Spirituality and Health. In addition, students will choose two books to read from three separate categories.