Health is a key human good – even a human right, some claim – and, in the last century, a center of gravity for vast economic and scientific investment. Infant mortality plummeted and human lifespans increased in some places, but not symmetrically across race, class, ethnicity, gender, age, religion, and culture. Some of the putative gains in health are contested: lives are longer, but more people die slowly and away from home; and the United States spends more per capita on health care than any country in the world but achieves only average public health results. This major offers multidisciplinary inquiry and reflection for students interested in the intersection of physiological, social, political and ethical factors concerning human health.
Public health at many institutions is a pre-professional track, with students likely to spend considerable time manipulating spreadsheets as if they were running a hospital or the county health department. Instead, our major offers a student the experience of thinking about human health from a liberal arts perspective.
We ask questions.
What are our responsibilities and obligations to each other about health?
How can we understand human health – in terms of biological capability and function and in terms of social constructions?