Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2023

Course Description

Are you healthy or ill? How do you know? Can your race, class, and gender really affect your health? How has medicine as an institution changed? How do health care providers’ decisions affect your health? Is the health care system able to take care of our country’s citizens? Why is our country one of the few that does not have universal healthcare? These and many, many more questions will be explored in this this course. The course is divided into four sections. In the first section, we will review the history and politics of health care reform in the United States. Next, we will explore how macro level factors affect health. We will then focus on the cultural meanings and interpersonal experiences of illness and end with a look at health care providers.

Student Outcomes

By the end of the semester, students will be able to: • Understand how what may have seemed to be purely physiological, health, can be affected by a variety of cultural and structural factors. • Articulate it means to be ill and how persons with illness live, cope, struggle, and prosper with illness. • Be familiar with the rich history of medicine and the changing nature of health care and all of the ensuing implications. • Interpret the multitude of factors that affect the healthcare an individual may receive. • Engage in serious reflection about the many ethical decisions faced by healthcare providers, health care organizations, and government agencies. • Apply practical knowledge for you and your family’s future health as well as insight for those of you interesting in working as a health care provider. • Compare and contrast different materials from a sociological perspective in order to heighten your critical thinking skills as well as writing, discussion, and presentation skills.