Perspectives on Suffering and Care: Philosophy, Medicine, and Zen Conference

Saturday, April 14 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Fromm Hall - FR 125 - Maraschi Room

This event is free and open to the public.

In the scope of therapeutic care, what is the nature of human suffering? Can healthcare enable us to not only avoid or survive suffering, but to know how to suffer? This conference explores these questions through three perspectives: Philosophy, Medicine, and Zen Buddhism. Over the course of the day, there will be a theoretical investigation of the assumptions, models, and methods that are available to care practitioners and patients alike in facing suffering, and participatory learning activities that invite the audience members to investigate their own experiences of suffering and care. With a dialogue and round-table discussion with three panelists, Dr. Tom Cavanaugh, Dr. Cynthia Haq, and Dr. Gordon Greene, the conference will explore how we train health professionals and students to recognize the therapeutic elements of the patient-physician relationship.

Coffee, refreshments, and lunch will be provided. To RSVP please email Monica Doblado at

Co-Sponsored by the Department of Philosophy, the Honors College, and the Asian Studies Program.

Conference Panelists:

Tom Cavanaugh, PhD, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of San Francisco. Professor Cavanaugh regularly teaches Medical Ethics, Medieval Philosophy, and a first-year seminar entitled “What is Wisdom?” In 2017 Oxford University Press published his most recent book entitled Hippocrates’ Oath and Asclepius’ Snake: The Birth of the Medical Profession. This work investigates how the Hippocratic Oath founds medicine as a therapeutic practice that excludes deliberately injuring patients. It elaborates upon the connections between medical promising, autonomy, and medicine as a profession.

Cynthia Haq, MD, is Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Haq’s work has resonated with medical students, family medicine residents, patients, and colleagues across Wisconsin and around the world. For 28 years, she served as Professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, and Department of Population Health Sciences. Dr. Haq also helped to launch the first family medicine residency programs in Pakistan, Uganda, and Ethiopia and is the author of numerous papers, co-author of a book on family medicine, and the recipient of numerous awards for teaching, international leadership, and family care.

Gordon Greene, PhD (Physical Geography), is Head Priest (“Roshi”) at the Spring Green Zen Dojo in Spring Green, Wisconsin and a medical educator. He has trained in Zen Buddhism and martial arts for 40 years. As a medical educator, Greene Roshi served in the Department of Family Medicine and the Office of Medical Education at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (University of Hawai’i at Mānoa) from 1991-2006, maintains teaching and consulting ties with medical schools and hospitals in Japan, and currently is a part-time hospital chaplain in Madison, Wisconsin, and Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.