2018-2019 Academic Catalog 
    Mar 04, 2024  
2018-2019 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Health, Science, & Society Concentration

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Undergraduate Concentration

The Health, Science, and Society concentration emphasizes the importance of being able to think about complex health-related issues from a variety of perspectives. The concentration is supported by faculty with diverse interests from many departments, and it provides a great opportunity for students from many majors to broaden their view of health topics and strengthen their qualifications towards a variety of professional directions. For those interested specifically in public health, the HSS concentration combined with internship opportunities through the Worcester Division of Public Health offers a good entry point towards this field.

The concentration’s core is built on four main perspectives: biomedical science, social determinants of health, statistics-based data analysis, and ethical considerations. Thinking about health, disease, and medicine at a biomolecular level provides a critical perspective for anyone wishing to have a strong foundation in a health-related field. Considering social, economic, and environmental factors, such as socioeconomic status, education, the physical environment, employment, social support networks, and access to health care leads to a broader understanding of health issues within a society. In both social sciences and biomedical sciences, the appropriate use of statistical analysis of data is required for appropriate and meaningful conclusions to be drawn. Questioning what is good, just, fair, and compassionate provides insight about what a society or individuals should do with the knowledge that is provided by scientific studies of health-related topics. Together, these four perspectives provide a well-balanced lens through which to consider complex health-related questions.


Concentration Requirements

Six total courses:

  • One course from the biomedical sciences course list show below (which each typically have a couple semesters of intro-level science courses such a Biol 101 & 102 as prerequisites)
  • One course from the social determinants of health course list
  • One course from the statistical analysis course list
  • One course from the health ethics course list
  • Two elective courses selected from either the biomedical science course list, the social determinants of health course list, the other electives course list, or a combination thereof.

Course-counting rules:

  • Excluding the statistics course, no more than two of the other five courses may come from any individual department.
  • Excluding the statistics course, no more than two of the other five courses may be counted towards the student’s major.  There are no limits for overlap with a second major, a minor, or other transcript designations.
  • A course that is listed on multiple course lists (for example both social determinants and ethics) may only be used to satisfy one requirement, not both.
  • Students who will graduate by spring 2019 may complete the HSS concentration by completing either the current requirements or the old “public health” requirements.
  • In unusual or complex situations, the program head will decide how to apply the spirit of these rules.

Course Lists

Biomedical Science Course List (Choose 1)

BIOL 109 - Microbiology 
BIOL 217 - Ecology of Infectious Disease  
BIOL 218 - Genetics and Disease  
BIOL 224 - Ecology of Disease Vectors  
BIOL 236 - Biology of Cancer  
BIOL 253 - Darwinian Medicine  
BIOL 237 - Epigenetics  

Social Determinants of Health Course List (Choose 1)

ID 108 - What is Public Health?  
ID 121 - Culture, Health, and Development: What Makes Us Sick?  
ID 248 - Gender and Health  (also on the ethics list)     
PSYC 138 - Health Psychology  
EN 177 - Health and the Urban Environment  
EN 255 - Epidemiology and Biostatistics  
EN 264 - Environmental and Social Epidemiology  

Statistical Analysis Course List (Choose 1)

BIOL 106 - Introductory Biostatistics  
GEOG 110 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods  
PSYC 105 - Statistics  
SOC 206 - Doing Quantitative Research  

Health Ethics Course List (Choose 1)

PHIL 130 - Medical Ethics  
PHIL 104 - AIDS to Zika: Ethics and Epidemics     
ENG 125 - Medical Ethics in Science Fiction  
ID 248 - Gender and Health  (also on the social determinants list)

Other Electives Course List (Choose 2 from among these courses or those on the biomedical or social determinants lists above. Note that some of these courses have significant prerequisites.)

SOC 241 - Sociology of Medicine  
SOC 250 - Community and Health: Non-Profit Grant Writing  
SOC 277 - Social Determinants of Health and Public Policy  
PSYC 138 - Health Psychology  
PSYC 281 - Understanding and Addressing Mental Healthcare Disparities in the U.S.  
HS 206 - In Sickness and In Health - Narrative and the Art of Healing  
ID 282 - Community Based Health Research  
HSS 298 - Internship  

Program Faculty

Charles Jakobsche, Chemistry (Codirector)
Rosalie Torres Stone, Sociology (Codirector)
Michael Addis, Psychology
Esteban Cardemil, Psychology
James Cordova, Psychology
Patrick Derr, Philosophy
Ellen Foley, IDCE
Susan Foster, Biology
Denise Hines, Psychology
Esther Jones, English
Ernest Krygier, Chemistry
Denis Larochelle, Biology
Deborah Merrill, Sociology
Neva Meyer, Biology
Nicole Overstreet, Psychology
Deborah Robertson, Biology
Marianne Sarkis, Education
Justin Thackeray, Biology

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