Health and Society

"Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely   the absence of disease or infirmity"   -World Health Organization


Despite being one of the wealthiest nations in the world and spending a great deal of money on healthcare, the health status of our nation is suboptimal. Why is that?

In this course we will explore the interplay between the way our society is structured and our state of health as one explanation for this quesiton.

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Health is a state all humans aspire to have and to keep. Some even argue that health is a human right issue. Whatever our convictions are about health and society, we know now more than ever that our social conditions determine our state of health. In fact, up to 75% of health is determined by  what is called the social determinants of health (SDH). 

Unfortunately, billions of dollars of our healthcare is spent in treating illnesses which are mostly the by-products of our social conditions rather than the root causes of our sickness- our social conditions.

In this course we will explore:

  • What are the social determinants of health (SDH)?
  • How do SDH impact our health?
  • What can be done to address these issues?
  • What role should the health care establishment, health care workers and health policy makers play to address these issues?
  • Should we adopt advocacy for social justice as a means for promoting health?

The instructor, who is a healthcare worker, will provide available readings and excerpts from pertinent literature to kick off the discussion. However, as each of us are part of a society and each of us are seekers of good health, everyone who attends this class should feel qualitfied and is highly encouraged to participate in discussion.

The hope is by the end of this course not only will we be better informed about this subject but also we will be inspired to advocate for societal reforms that promote good health for each of us.

Course sessions

    Thursday April 20 2017

    6:00PM - 7:00PM (North Ave classroom)

    Session I: Introduction: 

    • Define health
    • Define what determines health
    • Define the Social Determinants of Health

    Thursday April 27 2017

    6:00PM - 7:00PM ()

    Session II

    • How do social determinants of health impact health
    • Share your (your neighbors/friends/family members...) story

    Thursday May 4 2017

    6:00PM - 7:00PM ()

    Session III

    • What can we do to address the social determinants of health?
    • Share your ideas

    Thursday May 11 2017

    6:00PM - 7:00PM ()

    Session IV

    • Whose responsibility is it to addres the SDH? Especially, what should health care establishments, doctors, nurses, public health practitioners,  and health policy makers do to address these issues?
    • A word about the history of medicine and our legacy for social advocacy
    • Share your take home message