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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Stephen A. Bezruchka
HSERV 482
Seattle Campus

The Health of Populations

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.

Class description

The course considers the health of human populations whether they be countries or parts of nations, as the entities studied. What produces health in a society is different from what individuals do to be healthy. Research over the last three decades points to the social and economic environment, especially that of early life, as being critical for our health. We look at rich countries, as well as poorer ones and especially consider what is to be done if the US is to regain its health standing compared to other nations. We in the US die younger than people in all the other rich nations and stand in the health league with middle-income countries despite spending close to half of the world's health care dollars. This course is cross-listed with GH 490 A and is offered only in the spring.

Student learning goals

Define concepts of population health and distinguish them from the health of individuals

List determinants of population health

Describe biological and sociological mechanisms through which the determinants of population health operate

Analyze the role of medical care in producing population health

Discuss current concepts of globalization and their impact on global health

Disseminate concepts learned in the course to others

General method of instruction

Lecture group exercises and discussion for two class sessions a week. There is a weekly section meeting with a TA where a book seminar approach is used to discuss readings.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites. An interest in health, broadly construed, and an open mind helps guide learning.

Class assignments and grading

Students hand in a one page reaction to a reading from a text or online material fortnightly. There is considerable choice in the reading you select. There are two interactive exercises responding to a documentary and a population health web ramble. Students do two dissemination exercises of the course materials. One is to screen a segment of Unnatural Causes, a PBS documentary, to an audience the student organizes. The other engages your own creativity.

Course is graded for 4 credits. The grade is determined from a variety of efforts, as above, each worth 3 to 5 points. The two dissemination exercises count 25 points each. There will be a final take-home exam for 15% of the grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Stephen A. Bezruchka
Date: 02/16/2014