The goal of this course is to help students analyze how cultural factors influence health. It examines how people from different cultural backgrounds define health and illness, how cultural practices play a role in prevention and treatment, and how culture influences population health at many levels – from the way people seek care for illnesses to current policy debates about the provision of healthcare. The course also serves as an introduction to the field of medical anthropology, and the theoretical frameworks and research findings at the field’s core. A consistent focus in the course is how an understanding of culture can be applied to improve the provision of care and health care policy.
This course integrates knowledge from the social and life sciences, including cutting-edge research being done around the world by ASU faculty, to question our most basic assumptions about why we get sick and what we should do about it. It recognizes the need for a transdisciplinary and highly collaborative approach to addressing illness around the world, highlights the critical role of social perspectives in the global promotion of health, and advocates for the importance of health as a social justice issue.
This graduate seminar explores key theoretical debates about the social and biocultural causes of individual health and illness as well as population-level health disparities. It is ideal for those planning dissertation or masters theses in the area of health who seek a broad set of theoretical options to apply in their research. While focused on the particular issue of health, the class is interdisciplinary, including theories and readings from anthropology, psychology, sociology, social epidemiology, history and economics. Each discipline has its own way of making arguments and using evidence, and an important part of the class will be to identify the value in each of these approaches as well as each approach’s limitations. Many of the readings draw from the main foci of ASU’s global health program: neglected and reemerging infectious diseases, obesity and food insecurity, and maternal and child health.
Arizona State University
School of Human Evolution and Social Change
Tempe, AZ 85287-2402
Tel (480) 965-3087