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 perspective electives, and 3 health and social change electives.

Core Courses

HE200 Culture, Diversity and Health

Uses a multicultural and multidisciplinary framework to investigate how different aspects of culture, health behaviors, and health dynamics interact. This course focuses on the social determinants of health, power and privilege, and health disparities. Additionally, this course examines cultural behavioral theories in health communication, and investigates different processes used to develop culturally competent health initiatives for diverse populations to create a culture of health. 

HE201 Health and Advocacy

Introduces the study and application of principles and practices of health communication and advocacy. This is a foundation for students in exploring illness and metaphor, health narratives, family health history, social support, and environmental health. Behavior change theory and advocacy strategies are examined. Health literacy and translating jargon for lay audiences are practiced.

HE300 Culture and Global Health

Uses an intercultural and international framework to investigate how diverse aspects of culture, health behaviors, and health dynamics interact around the globe. This course focuses on the UN
Sustainable Development Goals and health disparities in the context of global health, human rights and environmental health. Cultural perceptions about health and disease in diverse communities worldwide, and how to develop cultural awareness and humility in healthcare contexts are examined. 
Prerequisite: HE200 Culture, Diversity and Health

HE301 Environmental Change and Human Health

This course will consider the health implications of environmental change from global and local perspectives. We will explore the science 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 biological impact of environmental variables on human health, and the inequities in exposure and outcomes across communities.

HE302 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, understanding and interpreting quantitative and qualitative data and research, as well as translating these for lay audiences.

HE303 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 role of policy communication, and the media in shaping these systems. 
Prerequisite: HE201 Health and Advocacy

HE400 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: HC302 Understanding Health Data and Research, Junior Standing

HE460 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: HE400 Health and Social Change Project Management, Senior Standing

Elective Courses

Required: Three of the following (12 credits) – at least one at 300 level or above.

  • 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 372 Healthcare and Health Policy: Human Right or Business as Usual?
  • 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 410 Common Pool Resources: Traditional Irrigation in Northern New Mexico
  • EC 412 Behavioral Economics
  • 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
  • IN 374 We Don’t Know You Anymore: Personal Transformation in a Time of Change
  • JR320 Environmental Journalism
  • LI 217 Literature, Culture, and the Environment
  • LI 405 Reading and Writing the Environment
  • PH 212 Ethics of Eating
  • PH 204 Environmental Ethics
  • PS 201 Abnormal Psychology
  • PS 340 Narratives of Disorder
  • TH372-02 Representations of Women and Mental Illness in Theatre and Culture
  • VM 331 Experimental Media Accessible Cinema
  • VM 331-1 Filmmaking and the Environment

Note: List of approved electives is subject to change.