The concept of interdisciplinary education and collaboration is not a new one. The Liber Augustalis promulgated by Frederick II in 1231 defined the course of studies required before certification as a physician to include nine years of studies, the first three being devoted to philosophy and the remaining six years being devoted to the attainment of the theoretical and practical aspects related to the practice of medicine and surgery.
The medical doctor is primarily concerned with the individual from a biological point of view. However, the human organism is not simply a product of biology but has cultural and social facets that must be understood and taken into consideration even in the management of his disease. Moses Maimonides, the twelfth-century Jewish sage, physician and theologian, wrote that the physician should not treat the disease, but the patient who is suffering from it. The humanities are the academic disciplines that study the social and cultural aspects of the human condition.
Scholars of the humanities, social sciences and the arts have always been interested in matters related to health and illness, as both are at the very centre of human experience. On the other hand, doctors and scientists very often also look upon their work as a service that improves and enriches the human experience. While all university graduates in the not-too-distant past boasted of a broad grounding which included a common trunk of knowledge in the sciences and humanities, such is not always possible within the modern educational process.
It is unfortunate that academic rifts have unintentionally developed between medicine, the sciences and the humanities, even though there have always been individuals who feel comfortable in several seemingly unconnected disciplines.
The HUMS Platform aims to be a bridge between several disciplines by bringing together specialists to facilitate cross-disciplinary intellectual exchange and research. The Platform has been formally recognised and endorsed by the Senate of the University of Malta and was inaugurated by the Rector of the University, Professor Juanito Camilleri on 27 January 2012.