Health as Buddhist Practice


    Key Information

    Lecture dates: 16-20 November 2020 Census date: 16 November 2020
    Lecturer: Dr Suzanne Cochrane Duration: 5 weeks (incl. 5 days on-campus)*
    Location: NTI Wollongong Campus, 231 Nolan St, Unanderra, NSW 2526, Australia
    Subject Codes: Postgraduate: ABS923 / Undergraduate: ABS723 (Cross-institutional Study)

    Subject Overview

    In this subject, you will explore the meaning of health and illness and how different traditions - especially the Greek-origin European ‘science’ tradition, Indian-origin Buddhist understandings, and traditional Chinese medical approaches - conceive of and act on mind-body health and ill health.


    The subject content will include the philosophy, history and political economy of health practices as they have developed within different cultural and environmental contexts. You will be introduced to a range of different medical approaches including indigenous Australian, Ayurveda and traditional Chinese as well as examining the reality of mainstream science-based medicine as it exists in Western societies.

    You will be taught a range of practices that are said to influence health. You will be asked to adopt and critically examine the impact of one practice on your own health. How does your own experience compare to the reported expected outcomes and evidence base for this practice? What does the practice tell us about the ideas that are the implicit underpinnings of such a practice?

    It is hoped that the mix of theoretical input and student experiences will allow us to explore health and illness in depth and in new ways.


    Learning Outcomes

    • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-views underlying mainstream, indigenous and Asian healthcare practices
    • Identify Buddhist approaches to both health and disease
    • Critically analyse fundamental issues involved in health, illness and healing practices
    • Understand and situate the health practices within a Buddhist framework as well as within biomedicine and traditional medicines
    • Critically evaluate and reflect on the historical construction of health practices, including what is considered healthy, how illness is conceived and the ways in which healing is said to be achieved
    • Develop an ability to recognise and evaluate what is chosen as evidence in evidence-based medicine
    • Experience and reflect on the application of specific health practices and their impact on wellbeing



    * Time structure for this subject:

    - 1st week: pre-reading
    - 2nd week: face-to-face classes at NTI Wollongong Campus
    - 3rd to 5th week: time for completing written assessments