Workshop: Methodological and Ethical Perspectives of Visual Health Communication

October 7th, 2015, Department for Medical Ethics and History of Medicine University Medical Center Göttingen, Germany.

This workshop is dedicated to the ethical, social and communicative issues of public visual health communication targeting anonymous consumers of health care. Visual health communication occurs not only in the commercial sector of advertisements for pharmaceutical products, but is also very prominent in public campaigns for health prevention, organ donation or professional presentation. The underlying values and implicit moralities are often covered by subtle rhetoric and especially complex visual messages. Public campaigns for organ donation, as a prominent example, often remind us of our own mortality, appeal to social norms of reciprocity or encourage us to make just a decision. But they are also driven by interests to increase the number of organs available for transplantation.

The aim of the workshop is to unfold the complex ethical, social and cultural topics involved in different types of public health communication by examining the relationship between socio-political approaches, aesthetical and cultural framing and the moral principles/values as part of the visual messages.

Media and medical ethics focusing on texts, discourses and arguments need to integrate perspectives from cultural and visual studies to tackle this complex interplay. We want to initiate a dialogue between experts from medical ethics, sociology and communication sciences and analyze visual health communication from different perspectives, combining methodological and theoretical approaches in an interdisciplinary setting, and providing a platform for further exchange.

This is the second workshop of the DFG-funded project: “’I would prefer not to.’ Organ donation between unease and criticism. A sociological and ethical analysis.” PIs: Prof. Dr. Frank Adloff (Erlangen-Nürnberg) and Prof. Dr. Silke Schicktanz (Göttingen)


Dr. Mona Motakef, Berlin: “Hey, Big Spender!” Interpellations in Organ Transplantation Campaigns with Butler und Althusser

Prof. Dr. Elke Grittmann, Lüneburg: The Visual Framing of Compassion and Solidarity. Evoking Empathy in Visual Media Culture 

Gitit Bar-On, PhD Candidate, Tel Aviv: How to Approach a Text with Health Message? Methodological Aspects of Analyzing Campaigns on Organ Transplantation 

Solveig Lena Hansen, M.A., Göttingen: Pictures for Life. Analyzing the Moral Iconography of the German Organ Transplantation Foundation 

Registration: External participants are welcome. The workshop is free (except for dinner), registration until September 26th, 2015 required. Please contact solveig-lena.hansen[at]


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