About the Center for Humanities, Ethics and Society

Vision of the Center 

The Center for Humanities, Ethics, and Society (CHES) will be the locus of collaboration with university and community partners for the advancement of ethics, humanities, law, and inter-professionalism through research, service, and education.

Mission of the Center

The mission of the CHES is to provide expertise in ethics, humanities, law, and inter-professionalism through:

  • the implementation of new courses;
  • the training of clinical and academic partners in ethics consultation and the integration of the medical humanities into routine care;
  • the expansion of collaborative scholarly projects in ethics, law, humanities, and inter-professionalism.  

Goals of the Center  

  • Establish and maintain a public interface for the university community to promote scholarly work in ethics and the humanities
  • Create, strengthen, and expand the collaborative relationships of Center faculty with their inter-disciplinary partners
  • Expand the revenue sources for Center projects by facilitating collaborations with investigators across departments, institutes, and campuses
  • Collaborate on the creation of new educational initiatives in ethics, public health law, medical humanities, and inter-professionalism  


UNMC has conducted teaching and research in ethics, humanities, law, and professionalism as part of the development of the core competencies of health professionals since the 1920s. In 1977, under the chairmanship of Walter Friedlander, MD, these academic activities were formalized as the Department of Medical Jurisprudence and Humanities in the College of Medicine. When in 1989, under the chairmanship of James R. Anderson, PhD, the Department of Medical Jurisprudence and Humanities was re-named as the Department of Preventive and Societal Medicine, faculty continued to work in areas of ethics, law, humanities and professionalism as the Section on Humanities and Law.

In the next ten years, the Section on Humanities and Law doubled in size, recruiting faculty trained in law, ethics, and the medical humanities to serve the ongoing needs of the medical school community. Faculty members have been active participants in the education of students in all the health professions at UNMC, including students pursuing graduate degrees through Medical Sciences Interdisciplinary Area (MSIA) programs. Faculty developed not just formal classes, but also a continual stream of workshops, seminars, guest lectures and other programs for both the academic and clinical communities. Through these collaborative efforts, many scholarly programs and projects developed that combined Section resources with those of the larger campus community.

In January, 2007, the faculty of the Section on Humanities and Law was transferred to the Health Promotion, Social, and Behavioral Health Department of the College of Public Health. This move presented more opportunities for collaboration with colleagues in medicine and public health, and re-emphasized the multi-disciplinary nature of the work of the faculty. A campus-wide center that focuses on projects in humanities, ethics, law, and inter-professionalism will best facilitate the collaborative relationships among academic, clinical, and community partners.