Special Academic Initiative: Health and the World

The courses included in the "Health and the World" Special Academic Initiative (SAI) will give students a liberal arts approach to medicine and health. Many courses in this collection will have a broad intersectional and cultural approach to health, shedding light on how health, healthcare, and access to medicine are often shaped by one’s social position. In other words, courses within this collection could help you explore the various ways in which "health" is shaped by the intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, religion and ethnicity.

Some broad questions that may be explored in the context of the classes include:

  • How are health and medicine related to society?
  • How might medicine be viewed as a social practice? In other words, what is the relationship between medicine, illness and society?
  • How might we historicize medical practice?
  • If medicine is often viewed in the realm of science, how might we understand medical practice
    in more humane terms?
  • How might an understanding of public health concerns contribute to a better understanding of health?
  • How might we understand the debates surrounding women’s reproductive health in broader, intersectional terms?
  • Similarly, how might we understand transgender health concerns?
  • How might we explore the relationship between ethics and bioethics in more humanistic terms?
  • What is the relationship between religion, suffering and illness?

Through these courses, you may learn to:

  • Acquire knowledge about various questions in relation to health and care-giving
  • Learn to critically assess texts and communicate thoughtfully about the complex world of medicine, health, well-being and illness.
  • Expose students to alternate health care practices
  • Expose students to the world of writing physicians
  • Cultivate empathy, persuasion and the ability to communicate effectively in the field of
    medicine and other health professions
  • Help students craft a direction for moving through their interests in the health professions

Courses with Health Related Aspects

Please note that some courses have pre-requisites and others do not.

*Courses that will (or are expected to) be asking for “permanent” status.

ANTH 113 Biological Anthropology
This course studies the biological diversity of our species and the evolutionary history that has led us to our present condition.

ANTH 320 Anthropology of Food 
This course investigates the central role food plays in human biology and culture.

ANTH 324 Human Ecology: Biocultural Adaptations
Although biological anthropology relies heavily on an evolutionary perspective, it is also concerned with understanding the interactions between human biology and culture and this perspective seeks to appreciate how humans adapt to their environment through a combination of biological, cultural and physiological adjustments. 

ANTH 358 Medical Anthropology in Biocultural Perspective
Medical anthropology is an interdisciplinary approach to understanding the influences of both biology and culture on the human experiences of disease.

BIOL 211 Health Service and Biomedical Analysis
In this community-engaged learning course, students participate in and reflect upon a volunteer internship at a local health-care facility, placing their observations and experiences in the context of the primary biomedical literature.  

BIOL 375 Virology
In this course, students examine the form and function of viruses through current research papers and documentaries on viral disease. Specific viruses are examined in depth, exemplifying their roles in human and animal health, biotechnology and global ecology. Topics may include human papillomavirus, a DNA virus causing cancer; hepatitis C virus, a growing cause of liver failure; Ebola virus, an RNA virus with extraordinary virulence; influenza virus, an RNA virus of humans and animals with pandemic potential; and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS. We investigate the use of HIV-derived viral vectors for gene therapy. 

DANC 322 Dance Kinesiology
"Dance Kinesiology" explores the vital, integrative connections between the body, the mind, and movement through the study of musculoskeletal anatomy, exercise physiology and somatic techniques.

ENGL 104.06 Health and Healing
In this course, we examine the relationship between medicine, illness and healing through an intersectional and transnational approach to literature.

ENGL 291 Literature, Medicine and Culture
An introduction to health humanities and disability studies. We'll be thinking about how different genres — film, novels, poetry, short fiction — grapple with the problem of translating illness and disability into narrative form.

ENVS 342 Disease Ecology
Hosts, pathogens and vectors are parts of complex ecosystems. To understand the impacts of disease, this course examines the effects of disease on ecosystems (including humans) and explores the ecological and evolutionary processes that drive disease dynamics. Diseases do not follow national boundaries, but disease incidence and mitigation approaches differ dramatically by country and continent. Thus, exploring ecological systems and disease dynamics requires a global approach. This course includes case studies, problem-based learning and discussions that focus on the global aspects of disease. Also emphasized are global change (climate change; urbanization and development; movement of people, animals and pathogens; and habitat loss and alteration) and impacts on emerging and re-emerging diseases. 

HIST 342 History of Public Health
This course follows the historical evolution of medical ideology and the growth of public health from the 16th to 21st century, tracing the relationship between disease, inequality, and the state.

HSPS 171 Human and Sport Nutrition
This course will teach the student the basics of human nutrition and nutrition for sport, focusing on individual nutrition as well as nutrition across the lifespan and global issues of nutrition.

HSPS 184 Wilderness First Aid
This course focuses on patient assessment, care, and evacuation from remote settings as well as basic survival skills.

INDS 160 Community Health Coaches
In partnership with Knox Community Hospital, this course trains students to become health coaches with the hospital's Community Care Network.

*PHIL 191 The Bioethics of Birth, Illness, Sex, and Death
A first-year seminar that introduces students to the ethical dilemmas that arise during the four biomedical experiences that all human beings share.

PHIL 201 Philosophy of Science
This course is concerned with the issue of whether or not, and upon what grounds, the scientific method generates knowledge. The course investigates the following conceptual elements of the scientific method: discovery and observation; evidence and confirmation; law, prediction, and explanation; data modeling; replication; peer review; and objectivity writ large. 

PHIL 260 Philosophy of Mind and Brain
We use very different language to describe the workings of the mind and the workings of the brain. But clearly the mind and the brain are deeply related. In this course, we examine various ways in which the mind and the brain are taken to be related.  

PHIL 262 Philosophy of Perception
This course examines perception, with an emphasis on visual perception. We examine the ways in which perception works (and what we mean by that) and the many ways perception breaks down. The class focuses on the three main theories that attempt to systematize our understanding of perception.

PSCI 476 Rules for the World: International Organizations' Role in World Politics.
As part of this course, students will learn about the role that international organizations (particularly the World Health Organization) play in global health efforts.

PSYC 331 Positive Psychology
A course that considers the numerous elements of life (e.g., relationships, education, religion/spirituality) that can impact an individual's psychological well-being and their ability to live "the good life."

PSYC 321 Abnormal Psychology
An introductory course to the study of psychopathology that examines what makes us unwell for a variety of perspectives (e.g. psychological, sociocultural, biological and social).

PSYC 327 Cross Cultural Psychology
A course that examines the influence of culture on psychology and includes such topics as the study of health and illness.

PSYC 342 Clinical Psychology
The study of the assessment and treatment of distress.

SOCY 224 Sociology of Health and Illness
A course that examines social determinants of health and illness, social interventions that affect health and illness and the social experience of health outcomes.

*SOCY 491 Health Identities and Inequalities.
A course that examines health inequalities across social identity categories such as race, class, gender, sexuality and embodiment.

WGS 391 Disability in America: History, Theory, Activism
From the Spanish Flu to COVID-19, from Eugenics to the Disability Rights Movement, this course will use key events of the past century to explore disability — a socially constructed category that includes physical and cognitive impairments, mental illness, and neurodivergence — as an oppressed and empowering identity that overlaps with other complex forms of embodiment (sex, race, etc.).