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340.698.01 Methods for Assessing Power, Privilege, and Public Health in the United States

4th term
4 credits
Academic Year:
2017 - 2018
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • M W F,  10:30 - 11:50am
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Lorraine Dean
Course Instructor:
Frequency Schedule:
Every Other Year
Next Offered:
2019 - 2020

340.601 or 340.721 or 340.751 or equivalent Epidemiology course, 140.621 or equivalent Biostatistics course, 1 course in social epidemiology such as 340.666 and basic knowledge of a programming language (e.g., Stata, SPSS, SAS, R)


Illness and health do not happen in a vacuum, nor are they distributed randomly throughout society – they are structured by power and privilege. What are the strengths and limitations of the methods used to study these forces and their impacts on health? How do these structures influence our interpretation of data and how does this translate to the real world? This service-learning course allows you to reflect on your own privilege as a scientist as you integrate social epidemiology concepts with quantitative epidemiological skills and apply them to a data-driven health project. A community-based organization (CBO) will use your final product to guide their activities.

Discusses emergent health issues and how the choice of measures for power, privilege, and inequality influence results in epidemiological research. Challenges you to reflect on how your own positions of privilege influence your interpretation of data and your public health practice. Provides an opportunity to apply epidemiology research skills to develop and execute a data-driven project on a real-world health problem that can will be presented and used by a community partner.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Recognize structures of power and privilege in the US and the rest of the world, and articulate how that impacts health.
  2. Describe strengths and limitations of quantitative and qualitative methods used to evaluate structures of power and privilege and how they influence health.
  3. Identify their own roles in structures of power and privilege, and how that influences approach to epidemiological analysis and interpretation of results.
  4. Determine the role of data in a community-based organization.
  5. Collaborate with a community-based organization as an equal partner in developing a data-related product appropriate for community usage
  6. Interpret community-based health data in the context of structures of power and privilege
Methods of Assessment:

20% Written Reflections, 20% Mid-term Exam, 50% Class Final Project, 10% participation (1/2 class attendance, 1/2 completion of SOURCE online modules)

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Consent required for any students who have not met prerequisites (i.e. not have taken a social epidemiology course) but are interested in taking the course.

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

This is a service-learning course, so will include up to 3 trips to the community partner for orientation, observation, and presenting the final data product.