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Health & Society

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Human health is complex, influenced not only by the biology and chemistry of the body but also by social structures, culture, politics, and economics.

The issues we study are both local and global: recent student projects have focused on food insecurity in Beloit, communication about malaria prevention in Kenya, and teen pregnancy in Chile. Many of the major courses include hands on learning, from a trip to Nicaragua as part of Nicaragua in Transition course, or community health assessment in a Proseminar.

In the words of a student, taking a global health perspective "promotes intellectual promiscuity."The interdisciplinary approach of the Health and Society major bridges the different worlds of college classrooms, validates interdisciplinary, integrative thinking, and encourages synthesis in thinking about real-world issues.

Courses and Major

The courses in the Health and Society major look at health from a community perspective and at health as a human right. Students integrate disciplinary perspectives to understand critical issues, such as HIV/AIDS, social disparities in health or universal health insurance from a liberal arts perspective. 

The major includes introductory courses in the sciences and social sciences, followed by at least three core health care studies courses: Medical Anthropology, Emerging Diseases, Women's Health, Nicaragua in Transition, Biomedical Ethics, Comparative Health Systems or US Health Policy and Politics, and Life-Span Developmental Psychology or Psychological Disorders.

All students take a research methods course to prepare them for a required internship or research project. Students work with an advisor to select four courses to address their specific theme.

The major capstone is a 1/2 credit Health and Society Proseminar. Proseminar topics include Health Literacy, Practicum in Community Health, Health and Human Rights, Poverty as a Pathogen, and Medicine and Literature.

A 6 unit minor includes core courses and an internship.

Additional Languages

Students who select the Health and Society major and plan to work in the United States will be strongly encouraged to develop fluency in the Spanish language. In addition, students who plan to study abroad in Ecuador or Senegal need to study Spanish or French, respectively, before they go.