Carnegie Mellon University

Grand Challenge First-Year Seminar: You Make Me Sick: Causes and Consequences of Health Disparities

Course Number: 66-137

Why do some people live well into their nineties while others are more likely to die at an earlier age? The answer to this question can be more complex than one might think. Life expectancy can be influenced by a host of individual and population-level factors. This course is designed to critically examine the social factors research has found to impact individual and population health experiences. This course will introduce students to the multiple approaches to researching the complex problem of health disparities in the United States with particular emphasis on perspectives from the social sciences and humanities. Specifically, students will examine how factors such as socioeconomic status, education, crime, housing, health care and food availability play important roles in the production of disparate health.

Students will examine psychological factors that can create disparate health experiences and the impact of such disparities on psychological health. We will address health disparities at the individual and population levels, learning how disparate health experiences are historically and socially produced, and how such disparities produce negative physical and mental health outcomes for individuals and minoritized populations. At the end of the course, students will present a collaborative group project that examines a specific facet of US health disparities and offer a proposed solution. Using a multi- disciplinary perspective, we will challenge students to discover just how important seemly unimportant interpersonal and structural factors can be in explaining health disparities and how important it is for society to take measures to address these disparities.

Academic Year: 2023-2024
Semester(s): Fall, Spring