The Humanology Project

My work with The Humanology Project cannot be explained before describing its founding story.

Humanology's mission is twofold. First, it provides a web platform for people to share their stories, about being affected by mental health issues or caring for someone affected by them. The people sharing these stories find a supportive audience, who frequently offer insightful advice. Second, its writing staff adapts scientific, peer-reviewed literature into journalistic articles that the public can access and comprehend more easily. This way rumors and myths can be dispelled sooner, new findings communicated farther.

Neha Kinariwalla, a Gates-Cambridge Scholar, came up with the idea for Humanology in 2013. Growing up in Long Island, NY, she had witnessed up close how the suffering a patient goes through can often go beyond the pain attributable to a disease. She zeroed in on the sheer handicapping power of stigma and social norms when it comes to mental health, hoping to tackle it systematically and emotively. Neha has been recognized by publications like Vogue and Femina for her initiative. Forbes placed her on their 30 Under 30 List in Healthcare.

The organization is based at Stony Brook University where it is offered as an accredited internship course for undergraduates: they attend weekly lectures and, under a teaching hospital model, contribute to the platform over a semester. However, the time is ripe for the project to expand its operations. And that's where I come in.

In September 2015, I joined Humanology as its Program Director. I also serve on the Board of Directors. My responsibilities include handling Humanology's educational setup, journalistic platform, and academic outreach. We are in the process of redesigning our course to develop a pioneering combination of rigorous science journalism with empathetic narrative writing. We want to produce graduates who could be formidable journalists if they wished but would definitely be more discerning and sensitive readers.

Numerous institutions have displayed interest in sharing our vision. While some details must be kept under wraps till the right time, we can confirm that my alma mater—the Department of Mass Media at St. Xavier's College, Mumbai—is on board to offer this course in its Honors program starting in 2017. Given that during my time there I frequently butted heads with the administration over its course offerings, syllabi, and evaluation criteria, this turn of events brings things full circle.

What excites me the most about my role at Humanology is bridging different parts of my work and life so far into a goal that I always admired but didn't have the outlet to pursue. In my writing and research I have emphasized the importance of a sociocultural context to understanding even the most minute, seemingly insular phenomenon. Now, we shall spread the message worldwide.