IntraG is dedicated to the research and teaching of health science questions, against the background of increasing internationalisation of medicine. It functions as a bridge between medicine, culture, law and economy. Transculturally oriented health sciences are engaged in the research of terms that are diversely defined by culture, such as health, disease, healing, and the idea of man that builds the basis of these concepts. Aiming at practical implementation, transcultural health sciences contribute to the development of a transcultural competence in the examination and treatment of patients with diverse cultural backgrounds.
The Rudolf Virchow Study Center is engaged in the editing of the complete works of Rudolf Virchow on the basis of the extensive archive of Prof. Dr. Christian Andree. It researches important points of contact between the work of Virchow and the transcultural health sciences.
Furthermore, the Institute and its postgraduate masters course "Kulturwissenschaften und Komplementäre Medizin" [Cultural Sciences and Complementary Medicine] are especially committed to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Beijing Declaration, a binding agreement issued by the 61st WHO conference. In this agreement it has been emphasised that natural and traditional systems of medicine should be a preferential subject of research, that their usefulness should be studied, and that those systems that prove useful should be integrated into the medical care systems of the member countries.
The WHO Bejing Declaration
There is a reason the World Health Organisation is so adamant that the usability of natural and traditional medical systems be studied. The WHO is aware that while our modern health systems are very helpful when it comes to acute illnesses and symptoms, in relation to the treatment of chronic, functional and degenerative disorders, especially in western societies, they are expensive and not very effective. It is questionable whether our western models are practical for the rest of the world at all. Traditional medical systems thus may make a significant contribution. The WHO, through its Beijing Declaration, tasks all governments explicitly to arrange for a scientific permeation and political integration of such traditional medical systems. In our central European cultures that particularly refers to the traditional European natural medicine, homeopathy and anthroposophical medicine, which constitute therapeutic systems in their own right. The integration of e.g. asian systems such as TCM supplement these.
The Institute for Transcultural Health Sciences confronts this task assigned by the WHO, conducts research on questions of complementary medicine, and offers a postgraduate education aimed at medical doctors, pharmacists, therapists and practitioners of other medical professions. (Master of Arts in Cultural Sciences and Complementary Medicine). The aspect of transculturality is integrated in several ways: by transferring ancient therapeutic ways of thinking to the present times, their permeation with modern methods, and by cross-fertilisation of therapeutic approaches between east and west.
Pluralism as a basis for the scientific discourse
Epistemologically, the transcultural sciences intend to promote the encounter of diverse cultural concepts of conveying insight, and seek to review the know-how of all cultures. We are open to different methodological approaches – we deem qualitative research as valuable as quantitative, natural scientific - and to different therapeutic approaches. We consider it to be the main task of science to be open to new questions and to provide insights against error through solid methodology. In that regard we have no a priori discrimination, rather a discrimination that is part of any good science: against dogmatic positions of any origin.
On one hand transcultural sciences represent a consistent pluralism and aim for an equitable scientific discourse between the different scientific cultures. On the other hand “transcultural” not only means a coexistence of different concepts, but also a real cooperation and engagement, a gradual obliteration and finally an annihilation of borders and the development of transcultural common ground.