This major in Health and Social Change gives students a foundational understanding of the systems and structures of modern-day health, policy, and healthcare issues, along with the tools to identify and implement cultural, policy, and social change. Distinct from traditional health sciences, health management, or public health programs, the focus of this major is not clinical practice but rather an interdisciplinary examination of how to create a new culture of health that takes into account socioeconomic factors, race, and environment, and engages social justice, communication, and the arts.

The Health and Social Change program will position you for careers in fields and organizations including: public and community health, government, non-profit organizations, healthcare advocacy, media outlets writing about health topics, and hospitals. If graduate school is your aim, this program will lay the foundation for graduate study in: public health; allied health, such as occupational therapy, physical therapy, or speech-language pathology; health science; health education; medical anthropology; and creative/expressive arts therapies.

The interdisciplinary nature of this major balances scientific inquiry, quantitative and qualitative skills, understanding of human behavior, and integration of messaging via communication and the arts, all through the context of a civically-engaged, local and global health lens.

This 52-credit major includes 8 core courses, 2 science courses of your choice, and 3 Health and Social Change electives.

Core Courses

HE 200 Health, Equity, and Social Change

This course will apply a multicultural and multidisciplinary framework to investigate how different aspects of culture, health behaviors, and health dynamics interact. This course will focus on the social determinants of health, power and privilege, and health disparities. Additionally, this course will examine theories of behavior change and investigate different processes used to develop culturally competent health initiatives for diverse populations to create a culture of health. Students will practice communicating for health literacy and translating jargon for lay audiences as well as completing a family health history.

HE 201 Health and Advocacy

This course introduces the study and application of principles and practices of health communication and health advocacy. In addition to students being introduced to policy-making, advocacy, and social change theory, they will also study the role of media and the arts in promoting narrative change as it relates to health. Additionally, students will be able to critically analyze the role of health advocacy in health prevention and mitigating health disparities. Mirroring the real world of public health advocacy, the class is designed to foster collaboration amongst peers while completing applied projects. Throughout the semester, the class will expose students to various professional applications of class concepts.

HE 300 Culture and Global Health

This course applies an intercultural, global health framework to investigate culture, health behaviors, and health policies around the globe. Guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, students will examine diverse cultural perceptions and institutional approaches to global health challenges. Students will develop action steps to address global health challenges with equity and cultural humility.

HE 301 Environmental Change and Human Health

This course will consider the health implications of environmental change from global and local perspectives. Students will explore some science, including chemistry, behind environmental challenges and human health dimensions covering topics such as climate change, toxicology, pollution, water and food access, environmental disasters, zoonotic diseases and workplace exposures. Students will gain an understanding of the interaction of individuals and communities with the environment, the chemical and biological impact of environmental variables on human health, and the inequities in exposure and outcomes across communities.

HE 302 Understanding Health Data and Research

Provides an overview of research design, methods, and ethics of health science data collection and research. Focuses on finding reliable sources and understanding and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data and research, as well as translating these for lay audiences.

HE 303 Healthcare and Public Health Systems

Provides an overview of how the US healthcare system is structured and the historical and political context of insurance as a driving force to its structure and related inequities. Reviews the public health and environmental health infrastructure and systems via government, non-profit, private industry, and community-based health programs. Considers the roles of policy communication and the media in shaping these systems.

HE 400 Health and Social Change Project Management

Provides an overview of managing a health and social change initiative from problem analysis to intervention identification to proposal writing. Students will write a problem statement using health statistics, data, and research. Analyzing the problem, students will examine possible solutions including individual behavior change promotion, policy change, and shifts in cultural norms via arts, media, or communication. Evaluation of program success will also be reviewed.

Prerequisite: Junior Standing.

HE 460 Capstone in Health and Social Change

Students develop a final product (campaign, video, website, or other initiative) in response to a community health problem, or in partnership with a non-profit community organization, that is researched and described.

Prerequisite: Senior Standing.

HSC Electives

Three electives are required, at least one at 300 level or above (12 credits). Options include (subject to change): 

  • HE 271 Topics in Health and Social Change
  • HE 371 Advanced Topics in Health and Social Change
  • CC 214 Mental Health, Media, and Public Policy
  • CC 315 Introduction to Nonprofit Communication Management
  • CC 316 Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns
  • CC 331 Digital Storytelling
  • CC 420 Health Communication Campaigns
  • CD 153 Disability and the Media
  • CD 193 Introduction to Communication Disorders: Diversity and Difference
  • CD 240 Arts, Health and Community
  • CD 315 Autism
  • EC 203 Principles of Economics
  • EC 412 Behavioral Economics
  • IN 234 Topics in Environmental Studies
  • IN 316 The War on Drugs
  • IN 322 Food and Globalization
  • IN 326 Too Thick to Navigate: The Ecology and Economics of Rivers
  • IN 352 Sex, Society and Health
  • JR 105 Journalism for Non-Majors
  • JR 221 Photojournalism
  • JR 320 Environmental Journalism
  • LI 217 Literature, Culture, and the Environment
  • LI 405 Reading and Writing the Environment
  • MT207 Statistics
  • PH 212 Ethics of Eating
  • PH 204 Environmental Ethics
  • PS 201 Abnormal Psychology
  • PS 208 More than a Feeling: Explorations in Human Emotion
  • PS 307 Psychology of Relationships
  • PS 340 Narratives of Disorder
  • SI 200 Co-Design Studio
  • SI 300 Social Impact Studios
  • VM 140 Introduction to Video Production for Non-Majors

Note: List of approved electives is subject to change.

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