Culture, Self, and Healing

Winter 2019
Spring 2019
Freshman - Sophomore
Class Size: 46
12 16 Credits per quarter
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Taught by

NOTE: Students who have taken In Sickness and In Health in fall quarter are welcome to register for the second quarter of this program in Spring 2019

In this introductory program, students will explore cultural, social, and psychological approaches to the body and health. We will also cultivate foundational skills that are relevant across all careers and fields of study—observation, note-taking, analysis, researching, speaking, and writing—but that may be particularly helpful in social and human services, health care, and education.

Using the lens of medical anthropology, we will consider diverse practices around sickness and healing and develop an understanding of Western biomedicine as a complex cultural system. Using literature and film, we will explore how people across the globe understand sickness and engage in healing practices. Students will learn qualitative ethnographic techniques for documenting and analyzing cultural and social contexts. An exploration of happiness and well-being will lead us to readings and exercises in areas of the social sciences such as positive psychology, sociology, neuroscience, somatic studies, and contemplative practices.

Spring quarter will emphasize applied approaches to sickness and healing. We will explore models of community-based scholarship and practice in the U.S. and in the context of global health initiatives. Students will be able to take in-program internships with local community partners and develop research proposals for future programs.

Part of our curriculum will entail a shared lecture series and seminar readings (4 credits) with another introductory program: Unruly Bodies . This means that students will be part of a larger learning community with four faculty teachers during part of each week, examining interdisciplinary approaches to the body, health, power, and knowledge.

In addition, each quarter, students enrolled in the program for 16 credits will have the opportunity to choose from one of the following workshops (4 credits) offered by faculty of both programs:

  • Happiness:  What qualities are associated with strong and happy individuals, relationships, and communities, and how can we learn to build them? This workshop provides an in-depth, applied exploration of research on happiness and well-being. We will participate in text-based seminar discussions and in experiential workshops that aim to integrate mind, body, and spirit as we cultivate the positive qualities that scientists and practitioners have identified are useful for happiness, resilience, equanimity, and enduring well-being. This one-quarter workshop repeats both winter and spring quarters.
  • Human Biology: Anatomy and Physiology: What are human bodies made of? How do they work? Students will learn about the physiologic functioning and anatomic structures of the human body and have the option to observe and carry out dissections including the (non-human) heart, lungs, kidneys, brain and eye.  Lectures and laboratory sessions will explore cell and tissue structure and function, and will investigate body systems such as muscular, nervous, cardiovascular, immune, urinary, reproductive, and digestive systems, through examination of normal and abnormal (disease) states. This two-quarter workshop spans winter and spring quarters. Students entering in spring quarter will require previous course work in human biology.
  • Illness Narratives:  How do people generate stories about their experiences with illness and persistence? We will read scholarship about exchanges between healers and patients, and between storytellers and listeners. Students will engage in the listening process by recording illness narratives and presenting them at the end of the quarter in the form of audio podcasts. This workshop is available winter quarter only.
  • Cyborg Bodies: The cybernetic organism, or cyborg, has figured the contested boundary between humans and machines in theory and science fiction. Through viewing, reading, and analysis, we will meet famous cyborgs from film and television and explore what they can tell us about our conceptions of the organic body. We’ll think about cyborgs in relation to the materiality of media, and its evolution through the 20th and 21st centuries. This one-quarter workshop repeats both winter and spring quarters.
  • Community Based Learning and Action (Spring Only) : What kinds of practical engagements can address sickness and healing in our own communities? For this workshop, students will complete three credits of internship or volunteer work (8-10 hours/week), either individually or in small groups, with local or regional community organizations. Faculty will help students connect with various opportunities during the first two weeks of Spring quarter; these may include agriculture, food, and nutrition; youth mentoring; tutoring; or other possibilities broadly related to health and social well-being. In addition, students will attend a two-hour, one-credit seminar on half of the Wednesday mornings in spring quarter that considers theories and processes of community collaboration, and discusses ongoing experiences with the community based work.

Students taking the program for 12 credits will not take one of these workshops.



Students who completed "In Sickness and In Health" in fall quarter 2018 may enroll in the second part of "In Sickness and In Health" in spring quarter 2019.

Winter 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 20145
Fr (12): 20146
So (16): 20147
So (12): 20148
Spring 2019 Registration

Signature Required

Students must have one quarter college-level experience in  cultural, social, and psychological approaches to the body and health  such as in In Sickness or in Health or the equivalent.

Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16): 30107
Fr (12): 30108
So (16): 30109
So (12): 30110

Academic details

Fields of Study
Preparatory For

Social and Human Sciences, Health Care, Education

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing

$40 per quarter for entrance fees and supplies.

Internship Opportunities

Students who demonstrate readiness may be able to complete part-time Spring Quarter internships with faculty approval.


In Person or Remote
In Person (W)
In Person (S)
Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 B1105 - Lecture


Date Revision
2019-02-27 description updated