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SS/R: Emerging Dimensions of Social Determinants of Health Inequalites: a Transdiciplinary Integrated Approach

Barcelona, Spain
2nd term
Health Policy and Management
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
Thu 11/21/2019 - Sat 11/23/2019
Class Times:
  • Th F Sa,  8:30am - 6:00pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor :
  • Joan Benach
Judith Holzer
Frequency Schedule:
One Year Only

Although there is abundant literature on the analysis of SDHI, most research approaches are based on limited risk factor analyses and other reductionistic linear behavioral and biological perspectives. The advance of ‘complexity science’ and ‘systems thinking’ across a broad range of practices and tools (e.g., system dynamics, network analysis, and agent-based modeling) allows one to consider the causes and solutions for complex challenges such as obesity and addiction, which follow complex systems characteristics such as nonlinearity, feedback loops, or chaotic behavior.

Introduces a novel transdisciplinary approach on Social Determinants of Health Inequities (SDHI). Provides an in-depth understanding of macro, meso and micro levels, all of which generate health inequities. Prepares students to examine the changes, causes, and potential policies to address systemic public health and equity-related subjects and the complex interactions between biology, behaviors, society and politics. Integrates a broad range of disciplines, ‘systems thinking’ practices, and methodological pluralism. Reviews research advances, including explanatory case studies and the evaluation of policies and interventions to reduce health inequities.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Identify and critically analyze some limitations of mainstream Public Health Research
  2. Review causalities in SDHI research identifying a complex systems thinking approach across a broad range of disciplines and tools
  3. Describe the usefulness of a complex systems research paradigm for the monitoring, implementation, and evaluation of policies to reduce health inequities
  4. Describe key issues on SDHI (e.g., politics, social class, precariousness, geography) under a transdisciplinary systemic research approach
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 30% In-class topic debates
  • 30% Group Presentation
  • 40% Final Paper

Enrollment Restriction:

undergraduate and interdivisional students are not permitted in this section

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Full-time JHU students must obtain permission to register from Judy Holzer or Pam Davis in HPM.

For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

This course will be offered for 3 days in Barcelona. Students must physically be in Barcelona to participate. Students are required to complete readings prior to the start of the course in order to participate in active debates and will be contacted prior to the start of class to identify a topic in which they will take the lead and to identify the topic of the final paper. The final paper due on Dec 20, 2019.