Speculative Pathology

On Tuesday 10 May, the Integrated Pathology Learning Centre (IPLC) hosted students from the Doctor of Medicine and Advanced Humanities programs for a multi-disciplinary event. Titled ‘Speculative Pathology’, the main aim of the event was for students to share their knowledge, make new connections, and engage with the IPLC’s collection.

To begin, students were introduced to the IPLC and its collection. This was followed by a presentation by Dr Karin Sellberg from the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry covering topics such as the aesthetics of medical teaching, both past and current. For example, medical teaching illustrations and how they have transformed over time. After setting the contextual scene, Dr Nicole Shepherd from the Academy of Medical Education presented students with their task for the afternoon.

Humanities and medical students collaborated in small groups to bring different perspectives to a selection of IPLC specimens. These were grouped into eight workstations: smoking, workplace injury, tuberculosis, infectious diseases, injury, respiratory problems, pathology teaching, and influenza. At each station, there were four to five specimens that reflected the broader theme.

Students engaged with two of the eight stations. They had 20 minutes to discuss and share what they observed and could research more about the specimens. This led not only to a medical understanding of the specimens but encouraged the potential historical contexts of the specimens to be uncovered. For example, respiratory problems was one of the most popular workstation choices. Specimens at this station highlighted choking hazards in the body. This included a segment of trachea showing an inhaled wishbone, and an entire inhaled cocktail onion. Students were encouraged to consider the history of first aid in Australia and how choking was treated in the past.

After visiting two of the stations, students came together to share their findings and experiences. It was a wonderful discussion that truly highlighted the value of cross-disciplinary collaboration. This event demonstrated how sharing knowledge and skills is an enriching experience that can lead to new ways of understanding and new levels of appreciation.

Thank you to the organisers of this event and to all those who participated. Thank you also to the Centre for Western Civilisation for sponsoring the event.


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