Why We Teach Thinking Matters

Abraham Verghese, professor of medicine, and Cari Costanzo, lecturer in anthropology, team teach "Reading the Body: How Medicine and Culture Define the Self", part of the Thinking Matters curriculum.  Photo by L.A. Cicero / Stanford News Service

Reading the Body has been perhaps the most interesting and exciting course we have ever designed and taught, in large part because of the wonderful group of freshman who bring diverse viewpoints to class. One of our goals in this course is to encourage students to think critically about the way their own cultural lens influences their ideas about the body. It has been a great privilege to watch them reflect on their assumptions about the world and to witness the shaping of a new vision of themselves and of their fellow human beings—a more compassionate view, we like to think.

We also enjoy the opportunity to have a dialogue between our two disciplines—Anthropology and Medicine—in order to bring a truly interdisciplinary approach to the classroom. While we have the joy of teaching together, we are also learning from each other, and from our students, expanding the ways we each think about the body.

Cari Costanzo, Ph.D Anthropology & Abraham Verghese, M.D.