This course provides a broad framework to understand key dimensions of health in America, including racial and ethnic disparities; social determinants of health; gender, sexuality, and the body; disability history and activism; bioethics in theory and practice; and public health in relation to infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and mental illness.
Course materials are drawn from the health sciences, social sciences, and humanities to provide a well-rounded exploration of how health is studied, measured, and experienced in America. Course content includes films, digital resources, and guest lectures from specialists with different disciplinary skill sets who research health patterns, experiences, and outcomes.
This interdisciplinary course combines approaches and materials from the health sciences, social sciences, and humanities to present students with a well-rounded and varied understanding of health in America. Students learn about social context, historical patterns, and subjective experiences. By reading accessible studies about health and medicine, including articles about clinical care, social determinants of health, and bioethical issues students are exposed to health sciences approaches to disease, medicine, and therapy. By reading sociological, anthropological and other social science materials about health in America and based on qualitative and quantitative research, students learn about social epidemiology, racial and ethnic inequalities, social stratification, and the dynamics of gender and sexuality in relation to disease burden, access to care, and other structural and institutional factors. By reading memoirs, literature, and poetry, and watching film dramas, students consider the human condition of illness, including the body in pain, experiences of medical treatment, and life with a disability or impairment. This course demonstrates to students that social, physical, and psychological phenomena as complex as health, disease, illness, and healing can be studied productively by combining different and complementary disciplinary methods. Putting these perspectives and methods in conversation with one another can enhance understanding of an important dimension of American culture and society.
This class also helps students start to prepare for the Social Science section of the MCAT.
Students complete shared assignments, including an in-class midterm, and independent projects, including a final research paper.
Three Papers, Two in-class exams, Class participation.
Upper or near upper division undergraduates from many concentrations, including humanities, natural sciences, and social studies, and students interested in careers in health.
45 to 60 minute lecture by instructor, followed by class discussion, as well as GSI discussion sections. Class work also includes focused small group discussion and, when appropriate, larger group discussion.