Health for All of Us: Staying Healthy While We Create an Equitable System

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Fall 2016 and Winter 2017 quarters

Taught by

This two-quarter program will explore the definitions, determinants, and implications of health for both individuals and populations.  How do individuals define health and wellbeing?  How do culture, economics, and institutional racism affect the attainment of health?  Why are some people healthier than others? What are the physical manifestations of chronic stress on an individual’s health?  What can we do about the systematic difference that results in health inequity in the United States?  How do people who wish to eliminate barriers to equity remain healthy themselves?

The program will examine the context of individual health and wellbeing, in terms of the World Health Organization definition of health: a state of mental, physical, and social well-being. We will consider health psychology, the ways that behavior and culture influence individual perceptions of health, illness, and interactions with the healthcare system. Contrasts between modern medicine and the complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) sector will explore the allopathic and CAM viewpoints on treating the individual as a whole versus overspecialization of healthcare, locating the cause of disease, treatment of symptoms and restoration of health.  Students will explore the social determinants of population health in The United States. Health literacy and Health activation will be examined as ways to link individual self-efficacy and autonomy to effective interaction with the health care system. Discussion will include epigenetics and the impact of thoughts, traumas and toxins relating to physical responses within the body’s nervous, endocrine and digestive systems, along with nutritional requirements to maintain health. The importance of individual self-awareness and health preservation for those who would catalyze change will also be explored.

This program is designed for students who would like to enhance their understanding of the social, cultural, and political factors that influence health and health care in the United States. By the end of the third quarter, students will understand more about the relationships between individual wellbeing, culture, the social determinants of health, and health care. They will also have the tools to remain healthy themselves as they advocate for improvements to the current and inadequate healthcare system in the United States.

Winter Quarter 2017

The focus of the 2nd quarter will be an analysis of how our collective understanding of health as well as our attainment of health is influenced by our relative status in society.  Our study will include a focus on how non-equity affects our ability to be healthy as well as our mental construction and our reaction to disease. Particular attention will focus on how these constructs impact specific communities (communities of color, ethnicity/culture, women, and gays and lesbians). This quarter is an overview of the cultural dimension of human systems, including worldviews, kinship and social organization, and healthcare beliefs. The central question for this quarter will be: How do   the differences in culture, present in diverse communities, interact with the inequality present in the US to affect both health care system and the attainment of health?

Winter Quarter - 12 credit option only

We will examine the state legislative process with respect to health care related legislation, observe how various stakeholders engage in the process, and learn how we can participate effectively in an arena that significantly affects the wellbeing of Washington state residents.

Credits will be awarded in health psychology, community health and health management.

Program Details

Fields of Study

community studies health sociology

Preparatory For

Health Professions, Psychology, Social Services, Education, Advocacy


Fall Open Winter Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Advertised Schedule

9a-5p Sat/Sun. First Class Winter Quarter January 14 at 9 am, Sem 2 B2105.  Additional meeting dates are February 4/5, 18/19, March 11/12.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning 25 - 49% Delivered Online