Social causes and consequences of health inequities

Course Description

Inequalities in social life determine how long people live, how often they get sick, and whether they can receive medical care. We will apply sociological theories to examine paths that lead social inequities to health disparities and how poor health, in turn, can reinforce social disadvantage. Our readings and discussions will cover how inequities cycle between health and social status, which creates a system of injustice that can echo throughout the life-course and across generations. 

The course is organized by dimensions of social inequality—social capital, education, gender, social networks, race/ethnicity, neighborhood, and immigration status. Each dimension is vastly complex and is worthy of numerous years of study. This semester-long course aims to introduce you to the major themes, theories, and empirical findings in inequality and health. We will practice applying sociological tools to real-life situations. We will explore how social standing affected health outcomes during notable events such as pandemics, natural disasters, and policy changes. By the end of the semester, you will be able to engage in public discourse that would expand our knowledge on how health and social status can influence each other. 

Course Goals

  1. Generate awareness of the relationship between social processes and health outcomes.
  2. Foster thoughtful and compassionate communicators on issues of social and health inequity.
  3. Create inspiration to serve as leaders and advocates for social and health justice. 

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to: 

  1. Apply sociological theories to articulate connections between social and health inequities 
  2. Critique empirical evidence that document social and health disparities 
  3. Analyze major events such as policy changes, natural disasters, and public health crises through a sociological lens
  4. Disseminate your views to a broader audience