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Health Disparities courses

As part of the pre-health experience at UW, students are encouraged to develop their interpersonal and cultural competencies.  In general, health professional programs are looking for applicants who will demonstrate knowledge of socio-cultural factors that affect interactions and behaviors, show an appreciation and respect for multiple dimensions of diversity, engage diverse and competing perspectives as a resource for learning, citizenship, and work, and interact effectively with people from diverse backgrounds as students and graduates of their programs.  

While there are many ways to engage in these areas, the pre-health advising team has compiled the following list of courses to introduce and encourage further study in topics surrounding health disparities. All courses on this list can count towards at least 1 General Education requirement, and are open to non-majors*. 

AES 450 American Ethnic Health: Race, Gender, and Status Groups (5) I&S, DIV

Introduces newer social science and health science related work on race, ethnicity, culture, socio-cultural, and environmental issues affecting American racial minorities. Considers differential rates of physical and medical problems such as cardiovascular disease rates, diabetes statistics, low birth weight children, etc.


AIS 340 Indian Children and Families (5) I&S, DIV

Cross-cultural survey of Indian child rearing, family structure, and related social issues. Includes historical changes in family structure, value orientation and adaptation to a bicultural environment, education, child welfare, health problems, and aging.


ANTH 215 Intro to Medical Anthropology and Global Health (5) I&S, DIV 

Explores influences of global processes on health of U.S. and other societies from a social-justice perspective. Emphasizes inter-relationships between cultural, environmental, social-economic, political, and medical systems that contribute to health status, outcomes, policies, and healthcare delivery. Focuses on health disparities within and between societies and communities around the world.


ANTH 308 Anthropology of Gender, Women's Health, and Reproduction (5) I&S, DIV

Examines anthropological approaches to improving women's health by surveying women's health history, status, and participation in healthcare. Analyzes a range of health issues, including reproductive healthcare problems, women's body images and sexuality, current health policies, as related to daily structures and relationships of gender, race/ethnicity, class.


ANTH 377 Anthropology and International Health (5) I&S

Explores international health from medical anthropological perspective, focusing on serious health problems facing resource-poor societies around the globe and in the United States. Develops awareness on political, socio-economic, ecological, and cultural complexity of most health problems and anthropology's consequent role in the field of international health.


B E 220 Cities, Health and Well-Being (3) I&S

This course analyzes the ways urban built environments bear on physical and mental health and well-being (material-economic resources, security, social relations, open choices). It focuses on how the practices and knowledge of built environment professions and disciplines interact with public health, engineering, and the sciences to understand and change cities.


B H 420 Philosophical Problems in Bioethics (3) I&S

Introduces the philosophical concepts and controversies that underlie contemporary bioethical debates. Explores issues using the literature of bioethics and philosophy, contemporary film, works of fiction, and conversations with health professionals. Students learn philosophical methods of analysis and argument, and debate different sides of ethical issues.


B H 456 Social Justice and Health (5) I&S

Examines the moral grounds for the view that social inequalities in health are unjust using contemporary literature from moral philosophy and bioethics, case studies, and film. Explores basic questions integral to determinations of social injustice as well as moral constraints on the pursuit of health equity.


ENV H 417 Case Studies in Children's Environmental Health Disparities (3) DIV

Introduces students to the ways in which children are disproportionately affected by environmental health hazards. Through a series of engaging case studies, student learn the core scientific concepts of children's environmental health while exploring the social, cultural, regulatory, political, and economic factors that lead to children's health disparities.


ENV H 443 Housing and Health (3) I&S/ NW

Explores healthy and safe homes as a crucial element in public health. Review of federal, state and local approaches to housing-related programs under the banner of healthy homes. Students completing this course will understand the relationship between housing and human health and well-being.


GEOG 180 Introduction to Global Health: Disparities, Determinants, Policies, and Outcomes (5) I&S 

Provides an introduction to global health, including: the burden and distribution of disease and mortality; the determinants of global health disparities; the making of global health policies; and the outcomes of global health interventions.


GEOG 280 Introduction to the Geography of Health and Healthcare (5) I&S

Concepts of health from a geographical viewpoint, including human-environment relations, development, geographical patterns of disease, and health systems in developed and developing countries.


GEOG 342 Geography of Inequality (5) I&S, DIV

Geographies of social, political, and economic inequality. Focus is usually on North American cities. Examines the theoretical underpinning of inequality. Explores topics such as the spatial distribution of wealth and poverty, the geographies of exclusion, and discrimination in paid employment and housing.


GEOG 380 Geographical Patterns of Health and Disease (5) I&S

Geography of infectious and chronic diseases at local, national, and international scales; environmental, cultural, and social explanations of those variations; comparative aspects of health systems.


G H 456 Global Mental Health (3) I&S, DIV

Examines the socio-cultural and political forces that impact assessment, manifestation, and treatment of mental illnesses worldwide. Students take a critical view of diagnostic systems and examine cultural differences in presentation of mental illness. Also reviews treatment practices in low resource settings, cultural-specific communication, and stigma.


G H 458 Global Violence and Health (3) I&S, DIV

Examines the socio-politico-cultural forces that give rise to violence and the impact of violence on population health. Discusses public health methods, policies, and interventions that can be used to decrease the occurrence and severity of violence in real world circumstances, including countries at all economic levels. W.


HSERV 100 Personal and Public Health (3) I&S

Provides an overview of the key components of health and wellness. Presents a balance between individual responsibility and social determinants of public health, emphasizing a holistic preventative model. Incorporates self-assessment and considers the impact of personal, family, social, cultural, and environmental factors on health.


HSERV 346 Using Economics to Solve Today's Healthcare Problems (4) I&S

Health economics is a growing field and an important aspect of public policy. Introduces health economics and the tools economists use to analyze current issues in health care. Furthers the understanding of economics and how it is used in current debates.


HSERV 479 Black Lives & Police Violence: Racism & the Public's Health (4) I&S, DIV

The effects of racism on health are profound and multi-dimensional. Critically analyzes theories of human behavior in relation to epidemiological concepts of race, against the backdrop of the current Black Lives Matter movement in the United States. Sp.


HSERV 482 The Health of Populations (4) I&S, DIV

Explores what makes a population healthy or unhealthy. Examines why the United States is less healthy than all other rich countries, despite being one of the healthiest fifty years ago.


HSTCMP 247 Before Global Health: The Histories of Public Health and International Health in the Global South (5) I&S

Traces the roots of the modern global health movement by examining the history of overseas interventions in medicine and public health from the fifteenth century to the present. Focuses primarily on Latin America while including case studies on Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific.


LAW 305 Global Health and Justice (3) I&S

This newly revised undergraduate course explores leading issues in global health and the human right to health.  Specifically, it focuses on injustices that occur around the world resulting in disease, disability and death. Using a justice framework, the course will consider social determinants of health and vulnerabilities that exist among populations and sub-populations, such as women, children, people with disabilities or HIV and the poor. Special attention will be given to low and middle income country health problems and struggles to attain healthy populations. Students will learn about the Sustainable Development Goals, international human rights law, and the pivotal role that law and legal infrastructure play in addressing injustices in health.

  • View course details in MyPlan: LAW 305
  • Course Prerequisite: The course is most appropriate for juniors and seniors who have taken introductory courses in health and/or justice.  Others require approval from the instructor before enrolling.
  • Last Offered Spring 2017

NUTR 302 Food Studies: Harvest to Health (3) I&S/NW

Examines the many facets of the modern food supply from production and processing to distribution, marketing, and retail. Systems approach to foods studies considers geopolitical, agricultural, environmental, social, and economic factors along the pathway from harvest to health. Spring.


NUTR 303 Neighborhood Nutrition (3) NW

Examines the food environment in the local community from the public health perspective. Explores where people get their food, what influences this decision and various aspects of the local food movement, including access to healthy food, urban agriculture, farmers markets, and farm-to-school programs. Winter.


NUTR 310 Nutrition and the Life Course (4) NW

Explores nutrient needs from infancy through adolescence and adulthood, including the physiological basis of nutrient requirements and the genetic, social, and environmental influences on food choices and nutrition status. Uses an evidence-based approach to assess the impact of nutrition across life stages and ways to improve population health by improving nutrition. 


NUTR 412 United States Food and Nutrition Policy (3) I&S

Offers a broad introduction to food and nutrition policies in the United States and their impacts on population health. Real-world controversies and debates used to illustrate policy principles, research tools, and policy analysis. Includes topics on public health nutrition, food policy related to population health, and food security. Autumn.


NUTR 420 Global Nutrition: Challenges and Opportunities (3) I&S

Examines global dimensions of malnutrition, its assessment and classification, and global policies and programs to improve nutritional status in developing countries. Emphasizes global consequences of poor nutrition on health, cognition, and development with a focus on the first 1,000 days from conception to age two.


PSYCH 210 The Diversity of Human Sexuality (5) I&S, DIV

Considers biological, psychological, and socio-cultural determinants of human sexuality and sexual behavior, and how their interaction leads to diverse expressions of sexuality, sexual bonding, gender orientation, reproductive strategies, and physical and psychological sexual development. Topics include cultural appraisal of sexuality, sexual health and reproduction (pregnancy, contraception, abortion), and sexual abuse and assault. Winter.


SOC 230 Intro to Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States (5) I&S, DIV

Examines health status and healthcare disparities among racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States. Utilize sociological, demographic, (social) epidemiological, and (social) psychological concepts to introduce students to racial/ethnic health disparities research.


SOC 430 Social Determinates of Health and Health Disparities (5) I&S, DIV

Examine the social conditions related to the health of populations. How patterns of health vary by social class, race/ethnicity, and gender and some mechanisms that produce and maintain these differences.


SOC WF 320 Social Welfare Policy (5) I&S

Emphasizes policy and program development in social welfare with emphasis on the context, making, and unmaking of social policy. Covers policy formulation as well as current and emerging policies in social welfare. Winter, Spring.


SPH 489 Undoing Racism in Public Health (1) DIV

Introduction to and exploration of institutional and structural racism in a public health context. Offered: AWS


Have any course suggestions that should be included on this list?  Email prehlth@uw.edu

*Last updated: September 2016