Multidisciplinary in approach and collaborative in spirit, our curriculum embraces the social sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Students learn how to think about health from a variety of disciplinary perspectives and with an appreciation of its many dimensions. They also gain experience—so vital in addressing contemporary health issues—working in productive partnerships with individuals from different backgrounds, training, and points of view.
Our program welcomes students from every major. Their diverse perspectives come together to create an exceptionally rich learning experience. At the same time, we are committed to advancing each student’s particular academic goals, which may include medicine, public health, journalism, medical anthropology, health policy, among others.
Students may complete a Health Studies minor in conjunction with any major at Haverford, Bryn Mawr, or Swarthmore, pending approval of the student’s coursework plan by the home department and the home-campus Health Studies director.
The Bi-Co Health Studies minor aims to:
- create a coherent curricular structure in which students address issues of health and disease informed by multidisciplinary investigations, combining insights from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
- develop a student’s ability to think and write with depth, precision, and sophistication about complex topics on health, disease, and social justice.
- teach students how to collaborate with others, having varying skill sets and vocabularies, on issues pertaining to health and disease, so they can work in partnership with diverse stakeholders to contribute to the well-being of local communities and global populations.
General Learning Goals
- Understand the interconnected physical, social, and humanistic dimensions of community health as described in the three core tracks below.
- Analyze the determinants of health and disease employing multidisciplinary perspectives.
- Apply principles of public health and social justice to contemporary issues of disease and well-being.
- Collaborate in interdisciplinary research and teamwork for improving community health.
(adapted from the Association of Schools of Public Health's Undergraduate Public Health Learning Outcomes)
Learning Goals: Three Core Tracks
M Track (Mechanisms of Disease and the Maintenance of the Healthy Body):
- Describe the biological mechanisms and risk factors of both infectious and chronic diseases.
- Understand how methods of epidemiology and surveillance are used to monitor population health and respond to disease outbreaks.
- Evaluate multiple sources of health information and assess health data; use this information to develop responses to individual and community health issues.
- Assess the influence that scientific research and technology have on individual and population health.
R Track (Cultural, Literary and Visual Representations of Health and Illness):
- Identify the role that humanistic inquiry plays in developing responses to pressing health issues
- Understand how literary and visual representations and cultural productions shape conceptions of health, illness, and the body.
- Explore the diversity of health beliefs and healing practices among individuals, communities, and cultures in local, national, and global contexts.
- Analyze ethical dilemmas in the field of public health, clinical medicine, and biomedical research.
- Understand how intersections of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexual discrimination shape health and disease, risk, and vulnerability.
S Track (Familial, Social, Civic and Governmental Structures that Respond to Issues of Health and Disease):
- Investigate how social, political, legal, and economic structures and institutions influence responses to health and disease.
- Examine public health as social justice with a fundamental right to health and health services.
- Identify stakeholders who influence health programs and interventions.
- Recognize the impact of policies, laws, and legislation on both individual and population health.
- Understand roles and responsibilities of government, non-government agencies, and private organizations in promoting health.
- Understand how organizational structures, financing, and the delivery of health care and public health services impact population health.
- Recognize the role of community collaborations in promoting population health.
Our growing menu of courses follows three tracks: mechanisms of disease and maintenance of health (often biology, chemistry, and psychology courses); cultural, ethical, literary, and visual representations of health and illness (often anthropology, religion, philosophy, visual studies, and literature courses); and familial, social, civic, and governmental systems that structure responses to issues of health and disease (often anthropology, economics, history, political science, sociology, and social work courses)
We also require minors to take an introductory level course and a senior-level capstone course, both of which bring a range of perspectives to bear on a series of specific health-related issues. Our capstone course culminates with students examining specific health issues from their own disciplinary perspectives and in collaboration with students from different majors.
Most courses in the minor are at the 200 or 300-level, so interested students should consider taking introductory courses in anthropology, economics, history, natural sciences, political science, psychology, sociology, or statistics to gain the background necessary for the more advanced courses.
The Health Studies Minor consists of six courses, which include:
- A required introductory course (HLTH 115), now offered in the fall and spring semesters, should ideally be completed during the first or second year; successful completion of the introductory course is a pre-requisite for enrolling in the Senior Seminar (HLTH 398).
- Three elective core course credits from a list approved by the faculty steering committee. Students must elect two of these courses from a department outside of the student’s major, and at least two of these courses should be at the non-introductory level. Students must take one core course in each of three tracks:
- M track: mechanisms of disease and the maintenance of the healthy body
- R track: cultural, literary, visual and ethical representations of health and illness
- S track: familial, social, civic and governmental systems that structure and respond to issues of health and disease.
- One additional course, outside the student’s major. Students may choose either a core course or one selected from a list of approved affiliate courses that deal with health issues, but not necessarily as their primary focus. Only one course that fulfills a student’s graduation requirement for their major can also fulfill a requirement for the Health Studies minor. For students who are concentrating or minoring in an additional program, only one of the four elective courses for Health Studies can also fulfill a requirement for the concentration or second minor.
- A senior capstone seminar organized around a single theme, which varies each year. Potential themes could be a particular health intervention (e.g., vaccinations), a category of diseases (e.g., epidemics), or a specific population (e.g., Native Americans). Students complete two projects that address the theme: one that is grounded in their own disciplinary perspective and one that requires collaboration with fellow students majoring in other disciplines.
4+1 Bioethics Program with the University of Pennsylvania
Study for four years at Haverford, then one year at Penn, and receive a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science from Haverford and a Master’s in Bioethics (MBE) from Penn’s Bioethics Program in the Perelman School of Medicine.
Study Abroad & Internships
Health Studies is distinguished by its investigation of how local conditions of health and disease are shaped by interconnected global forces and processes, such as (im)migration, traveling microbes, war and conflict, and international humanitarian projects. Many students fulfill one or two of their elective requirements for the Health Studies minor while studying abroad. Examples of programs with curricula relevant to Health Studies include: AUSTRALIA--University of Melbourne; BARBADOS--University of West Indies; BOTSWANA--CIEE Gaborone; CHILE--Middlebury College; DENMARK--DIS Danish Institute for Study Abroad; ENGLAND--University College London.
While not a formal requirement for the minor, Health Studies encourages students to take advantage of the many opportunities for enriching their academic work through independent research and/or internships, in both domestic and international settings. Such opportunities will help students face the challenges of integrating data and theory into their hands-on work in medicine and public health, in both clinical and community settings. Haverford students may seek support through Haverford’s Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC), from the John B. Hurford ‘60 Center for the Arts and Humanities (HCAH), or the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC).
Health Studies students have taken advantage of a rich array of international internships, including programs in Mexico, Nicaragua, Uganda, South Africa, and Thailand.