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410.611.01 Under Pressure: Health, Wealth & Poverty

Health Behavior and Society
4th term
3 credits
Academic Year:
2016 - 2017
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • Thursday,  1:30 - 4:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Amelia Buttress
Course Instructor:

This course will explore the cultural dimensions of social class and health within a globalizing economy, with particular attention to three overarching questions: Why, despite decades of intensive academic study, does political consensus on the causes of poverty and its remedies remains elusive? How does social class shape people's identity, values, political views, and tastes? Why do a majority of people living in the United States self-identify as middle class, despite persistently growing income inequality? Students will be encouraged to synthesize research from their fields with course materials.

Explores the relationship between health, wealth, poverty, and public policy in the U.S. as well as internationally; assesses past and future strategies to remedy inequities in health and health care. Addresses theories of social class.; distribution of poverty across gender, age, and ethnic/racial groups; antipoverty programs and their effects; effects of changes in health care organization on the poor; and possible modifications to provide greater equity. Investigates how a dramatically changing media landscape influences patterns of belief about the causes of poverty and its remedies. Synthesizes scientific evidence with a variety of genres and disciplines including: history, psychology, political science, religious thought, philosophy, geography, literary theory, popular culture, film/media studies, and music.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Summarize competing definitions of health, wealth, poverty, class, & culture, how they originated, and each definition’s impact on public policy
  2. Describe current social science and public health approaches to understanding poverty
  3. Provide examples of how poverty, wealth, and health status are related to one another in the U.S. and internationally, particularly with respect to uneven development
  4. Critique/appraise historical strategies, policies and programs undertaken to address the problems of the poor
  5. Evaluate past, current, and future political strategies aimed at improving the health of poor and marginalized populations
  6. Propose social programs and policies that target health disparities associated with social class
  7. Explain how ideology conditions patterns in the ways groups of people filter and interpret evidence
  8. Identify specific populations at risk of poverty and understand why they are specifically at risk
Methods of Assessment:

Writing/editing exercises - 30%, final written assignment - 30%, submission of discussion questions - 20%, class participation - 20%

Instructor Consent:

No consent required