Veterinary Education Symposium 2012: Exploring Cross-disciplinary Learning

Veterinary Education Symposium: Exploring Cross-disciplinary Learning (through the Arts and Humanities) in Veterinary Education. With Dr Andrew Gardiner.




Since the 1970s, the topic of medical humanities has emerged as a thriving cross-disciplinary research area. It encompasses a diverse range of subjects and approaches which aim to increase the understanding of human and animal medicine as a scientific, social and philosophical activity and to inform education and practice.[1],[2],[3]


Consequently there are increasing experiences in the use of medical humanities in the undergraduate curriculum, although there are obstacles conceptually and practically due to the dominance of the biomedical sciences.


This exploratory workshop will allow participants to explore the utility of cross-disciplinary approaches in teaching.


Draft workshop objectives

1) to explore the utility of cross-disciplinary approaches to teaching using the humanities

2) to share and brainstorm ideas about cross-disciplinary approaches

3) to take away plans for applying approaches to different learning situations.


Suitable areas of the curriculum include, but are by no means restricted to, professionalism, communication skills, ethics, complex stakeholder decision-making, and personal coping/resilience.4





Using a cycle of plenary and small group activities, participants will share and brainstorm ideas and apply them to different learning situations. Examples of some previously used approaches and materials will also be available for discussion.


The aim is to help us identify the sorts of ideas and materials that may be of practical use in everyday teaching and learning and that will foster for students a critical, participatory and enjoyable approach to topics which are not primarily knowledge-focussed.


[1] Medical Humanities Research Network Scotland, see:

[1] Murray, T.J., ‘Why the Medical Humanities?’ Dalhousie Medical Journal 1998; 26(1): 46-50

[1] Kirk, R. G. W. and Worboys, M. 2011. Medicine and Species: One Medicine, One History? In: Jackson, M. ed. The Oxford Companion to the History of Medicine. Oxford: Oxford University Press; pp. 561-577

4Gordon, J. J. and Evans, H. M. 2007. Learning Medicine from the Humanities.


Copyright © Dr Andrew Gardiner & Dr Iain J Robbé 2012



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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980; MRCS, LRCP, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic I have reactivated my licence to practise and I am providing telephone support to vulnerable elderly to assist them during the pandemic. I remain active as a Clinical Medical Educationist participating in a number of projects with the universities of St Mary’s and Dalhousie in Nova Scotia and Mount Allison in New Brunswick, inter alia, and separately with three of the veterinary schools in the UK. My focus is on teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, and communications, and particularly the influences of vernacular architecture on the creation of positive learning experiences in undergraduate and postgraduate medical education. I have the degree of Master in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and the degree of Master in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001). The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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