2021-2022 Academic Catalog 
    Jul 20, 2024  
2021-2022 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 & values course list
  • Two additional courses selected from any of the lists (either the biomedical science course list, the social determinants of health course list, the health ethics & values list, the other electives course list, or a combination thereof).
  • There are also many relevant courses offered at consortium schools and through study away/abroad programs that can be added to these lists.  To request a course to be considered, send a description and syllabus  (if available) to the HSS directors.

Course-counting rules:

  • No more than two of the other six courses may come from any individual department.
  • No more than two of the other six courses may be counted towards the student’s major.  Any additional transcript designations (second major, minor, etc.) may also have no more than two overlapping courses each.
  • 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.
  • In unusual or complex situations, the program head will decide how to apply the spirit of these rules.

Course Lists

Biomedical Science Course List

BIOL 109 - Microbiology 
BIOL 143 - Neuroscience  
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  
BCMB 237 - Chemistry and Biology of Medicine  
BCMB 276 - Chemical Biology - Techniques and Applications in Research  

Social Determinants of Health Course List

BIOL 117 - Epidemiology  
ID 106 - Healthy Cities  
ID 108 - What is Public Health?  
ID 121 - Culture, Health, and Development: What Makes Us Sick? 
ID 208 - Health (in)equity: social determinants and policy solutions  
ID 233 - Approaches to Community Health   
ID 248 - Gender and Health  (also on the ethics list)  
ID 277 - Approaches to Global Health    
SOC 241 - Sociology of Medicine  
SOC 277 - What Makes People Sick? Social Determinants of Health  
EN 177 - Health and the Urban Environment  
EN 255 - Epidemiology and Biostatistics  
EN 264 - Environmental and Social Epidemiology  

Statistical Analysis Course List

BIOL 106 - Introductory Biostatistics  
GEOG 110 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods  
PSYC 105 - Statistics  
SOC 206 - Doing Quantitative Research  
ECON 160 - Introduction to Statistical Analysis  
PSCI 107 - Research Methods  
QBUS 110 - Quantitative Methods for Managers  

Health Ethics & Values Course List

PHIL 130 - Medical Ethics  
PHIL 104 - Ethics and Epidemics: from AIDS to COVID-2019     
ENG 125 - Medical Ethics in Science Fiction  
ID 248 - Gender and Health  (also on the social determinants list)

Other Electives Course List (Note that some of these courses have significant prerequisites.)

SOC 250 - Community and Health: Non-Profit Grant Writing  
SOC 277 - What Makes People Sick? Social Determinants of Health  
PSYC 138 - Health Psychology  
PSYC 236 - Stigma and Health  
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  
IDCE 315 - Global AIDS Crises  
HSS 298 - Internship  

Program Faculty

Charles Jakobsche, Chemistry (Codirector)
Rosalie Torres Stone, Sociology (Codirector)
Michael Addis, Psychology
Nathan Ahlgren, Biology
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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