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Culture & Health



This seminar will provide an overview of the rapidly growing area of culture and health. As the U.S. grows more diverse, issues of culture and cultural competence have become more important to health care institutions and providers. The course will be grounded in medical anthropology, but is relevant for students in a wide range of health-related disciplines. There are a number of excellent texts and specific studies of culture and health.

We will begin with reading through Helman’s Culture, Health and Illness that provides an excellent introduction to the broad array of issues in culture and health. We will then read Kleinman’s Patients and Healers in the Context of Culture, which is a classic study that proposed many of the core concepts of medical anthropology. Next we will read Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down that provides an in-depth examination of the collision of cultures between a Hmong immigrant family and the U.S. health care system.

Students are expected to be active participants in the seminar, to present the readings to the class, and to follow the media and the scientific literature to keep up with new developments over the semester. This seminar is particularly relevant for Health and Health Communication students in the Environmental Policy, Institutions and Behavior major at SEBS and the Public Health major at Bloustein. It is of relevance to any students interested in health and medicine from a wide range of majors, including biology, biotechnology, genetics, and nutritional sciences, as well as pre-med students. There are no prerequisites for the seminar.

The goal of this seminar is for all students leave with a deeper appreciation for and understanding of the role of culture in health and health care and a clearer sense of how cultural competence efforts can improve health care.





Course Syllabus

Course Professors

    Spring 2017

  1. Guarnaccia, Peter
  2. Spring 2016

  3. Guarnaccia, Peter
  4. Spring 2014

  5. Guarnaccia, Peter
  6. Spring 2013

  7. Guarnaccia, Peter
  8. Spring 2012

  9. Guarnaccia, Peter
  1. Rutgers
  2. New Brunswick
Department of Human Ecology