Public Health, Human Biology, and Community Resilience
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Resilience—learning from and adapting to change—characterizes healthy human bodies and the social and political “bodies” of healthy communities. Resilient people respond positively to change; indeed, our bodies have multiple physiologic functions designed for adaptation and healing. The capacity for social resilience allows groups to adjust while continuing to retain core functions and identity. At both levels—individual and communal—social equity, human relationships, and learning skills support human health and resilience.
This program will introduce the fields of human biology, public health, and community studies while preparing participants for further study in science and community-based academic fields. Investigation of the powerful ways in which the social conditions of our neighborhoods, workplaces, and nation shape our health as individuals—and shape health differently in response to gender, race, class, and dis/ability—will be ongoing throughout the year. Study of anatomy and physiology (the structures and functions of what goes right and what can go wrong in human bodies) will center our inquiry into biology during fall and winter, supported by hands-on work in the laboratory. In spring, we will focus on nutrition, the microbiome, and nutritionally related diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and cancer. The interplay of social justice, equity, and policy with individual and social health and with resilience will be a vital aspect of all of our work
Engaging in a public health research project during winter and spring quarters will allow us to integrate work in biology, community studies, and public policy. We will build skills in epidemiology, the study of health and illness in populations. Epidemiologists apply data to such questions as: What are the factors that contribute to higher diabetes prevalence in communities of color? Do residents in a particular town have a higher rate of cancer because of waste products from local industry? What capacities allow groups of people to learn and adapt to change as communities ? How can these capacities be measured, and then enhanced to aid resilient response to change?
For the winter/spring research project, students and faculty will identify a local public health issue and draw on theoretical knowledge, critical thinking skills, and quantitative and qualitative data analysis to identify and carry out effective strategies for systematic and community-based inquiry.
A willingness to learn how to think about and work with data is necessary for program membership; previous work with numbers beyond basic math is not. Participants will have opportunities to develop the habits of mind of analytic, innovative, and resilient thinkers; class sessions will feature a mix of lecture, seminar, and learning activities and workshops. Our work to develop skills in crafting clear and informed spoken and written responses, in thoughtful and critical inquiry, and in cultivating a collaborative culture of resilience and relationship-building will be essential components of the program.
This offering will prepare you for careers and advanced study in:
health, health care and medicine, biological sciences, community organizing, journalism, social work, education, public health and public administration.
Class Size: 35
75% Reserved for Freshmen
Located in: Olympia