Health and Society

Study Tracks

Students will choose one of the following tracks and complete 9 hours from their chosen track and 3 additional hours from any track. 

Master list of approved track courses (Updated 4/11/19)

Track courses offered in Summer 2019 (Updated 4/11/19)

Track courses offered in Fall 2019 (Updated 4/11/19)

  1. Health & Behavior: This concentration focuses not only on individual knowledge, attitudes, and health beliefs but also considers how structural, institutional, and societal factors support or hinder healthy behavior and health. The purpose of this specialization is to introduce students to the theories, processes, activities, and settings for health promotion. Students will gain understanding of and experience with the social-ecological factors that influence health-related behavior as well as the role of individuals, groups, institutions, and social structures in encouraging and discouraging healthy behavior.    

  2. Cultural Aspects of Health: This concentration focuses on the comparative study of health, illness, healing, and beliefs about the body. Students will study cultural variation in ideas about health, mental health and illness, approaches to healing and wellness, cultural and political ecologies of disease, and cultural variation in meaning of illness, life, and death. Students will focus on the relationship between health and culture in various social contexts, with primary emphasis on how practices and beliefs related to illness, health, and medicine are culturally and socially constructed. This concentration has applied implications in developing an understanding of ethno-medical systems other than the biomedical model dominant in the United States which can be useful in examining how humans treat and think about disease and illness in different cultural settings.

  3. Health Care & Economy: This concentration focuses on students gaining an understanding of the health care system in the United States and how it compares with other countries' systems in terms of access, quality, and cost. Students will learn how care is delivered by physicians, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, and other health professionals and facilities; how innovation occurs in medical procedures, the organization of care delivery, and clinical technologies such as pharmaceuticals and medical devices; and how care is financed by individual-based, employment-based, and government health insurance. Students will also explore possible connections between health and workplace productivity, between health care system design and employment, and between medical innovation and economic development. Students will acquire the analytic tools needed to evaluate the cost and appropriateness of care delivered to patients, of preventive and population health interventions, and of other potential public policy changes to the health care system.

  4. Population Health: This concentration focuses on the understanding of population composition and change, and the health and mortality patterns that characterize different segments of the population in changing societies. The U.S. population, for example, is undergoing significant processes of racial/ethnic change and population aging. Understanding how the population is changing and what implications those changes might have are very important for health care provision, health care financing, and health care policy. Moreover, population subgroups - whether in the U.S. or elsewhere - are also characterized by inequalities in access to valued societal resources. Thus, this specialization also concerns itself with the understanding of inequalities in access to resources across subgroups and how such inequalities are important in the patterns of health and mortality that measured in population-level data.