Advancing Health Equity: The Structural Determination of Health at Home and Abroad
This course immerses students in the study of health equity, the social and structural determination of health, and the principles and practice of global health in a local setting. Through experiential study of the history, politics, and social and cultural narratives of communities in Minnesota, learners will bear witness to social forces that cause illness and those that support health. We will seek to understand accompaniment, or the practice of walking alongside and supporting communities, as well as the efforts of those who challenge power and work for social justice to change the structural determination of health.
Demonstrating that health equity demands much more than healthcare, an interdisciplinary teaching team will draw on the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, economics, history, public policy, biomedicine, public health, and the arts to provide students with a foundation to understand the complex, interrelated forces that shape health in communities. The course will incorporate numerous “classroom-less” experiences to facilitate conversation and relationship-building between students and community members and organizations working to promote health. The course will prioritize experiential pedagogy including community engagement; neighborhood walks and tours; group and individual reflection; theater, film, and other art forms; and prioritization of narrative to understand patient, community, and health professional experiences.
Recognizing that advancing health equity requires community-building and social cohesion, the course will also utilize pedagogy that promotes critical self-reflection and builds classroom community. The course will integrate considerable reflection upon personal experiences with power, privilege, race, class, and gender; incorporates assignments that are action-oriented and focused on learning skills to lead change; and seeks to expand social cohesion in the communities of participants. These aspects of the course will provide rich opportunities to develop leadership, advocacy, and communication skills that are important for advancing health equity in partnership with communities.
Please note: This course includes some community visit weeks that will require off-campus transportation. The course directors will work to make sure that reasonable transportation options are available for all students.