Skip Navigation

Course Directory

Under Pressure: Health, Wealth & Poverty


4th term
Health Behavior and Society
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Synchronous Online with Some Asynchronous Online
Class Times:
  • Thursday,  1:30 - 4:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Carol Underwood
Frequency Schedule:
One Year Only

Explores the cultural dimensions of social class and health, addressing three overarching questions: (1) Why, despite decades of intensive academic study, does political consensus on the causes of poverty and its remedies remains elusive? (2) How does social class shape people's identity, values, political views, tastes as well as their experience of health and illness? (3) How can a deeper understanding of ideology inform strategies to reduce health disparities associated with social class? Students synthesize encounters with science, history, psychology, criminal justice, political science, religion, philosophy, geography, literary theory, popular culture, media studies, and music.

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. Explicate competing paradigms of health, wealth, and poverty
  2. Distinguish between public health and popular approaches to studies of poverty and health
  3. Identify the assumptions inherent in historical and contemporary theories, methods, policies, and programs undertaken to understand and alleviate health problems associated with social class
  4. Analyze the epidemiological distribution of several categories of social distinction, including: race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc.
  5. Explain how ideology and psychology condition reliable patterns in the ways people filter and interpret evidence
  6. Evaluate past, current, and future political strategies aimed at improving the health of poor and marginalized populations
  7. Synthesize contributions from cultural criticism to the study of income inequality
  8. Propose platforms and strategies to eradicate health disparities associated with social class
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 30% Reflection
  • 30% Lab Assignments
  • 20% Group Presentation
  • 20% Participation

Instructor Consent:

No consent required