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Sociology’s new Health and Society minor has a threefold mission to provide students with: 1) an opportunity to examine contemporary population health patterns and trends in the US and around the world; 2) an understanding of the social construction of health and illness in modern societies; and 3) a grounding in sociological concepts and theories so that they can apply them to the study of population health.

The Health and Society curriculum addresses crucial questions for contemporary societies including:

  • To what extent, and why, is U.S. population health stratified across key subgroups such as age, gen­der, race/ethnicity, immigrant sta­tus, and socioeconomic status?
  • How might population health in the U.S. be amenable to change through effective public policy?
  • Beyond healthcare policy and its controversies, are there alter­native options that policymakers and other institutions should consider for improving overall US population health and reduce/eliminate disparities?

To accomplish this mission, the curriculum for this minor brings together courses focused specifically on linkages between health and society, along with courses focused on sociological concepts and theories. Together, this set of courses will provide students with insights into the ways that societies define health and illness and how social contexts are important in influencing population health patterns and trends.

The minor meets the substantial demand of students for courses related to health from a sociological perspective. In addition, the program builds on substantial departmental strength with expertise in how health is shaped by family, social class, race, culture, and politics.

The Health and Society minor will provide an excellent foundation for students with a wide range of career interests related to health including medicine, public policy, social work, and mental health.

Course Requirements for the Health & Society Minor

Students complete the minor by taking five courses – four required and one elective:

4 Required Courses:

SOCI 101:         Sociological Perspectives

SOCI 172:         Introduction to Population Health in the United States

SOCI 422:         Sociology of Mental Health & Illness

SOCI 469:         Health and Society

More specifically:

* SOCI 101 is our core introductory course and is offered multiple times each year. It provides an overview of core sociological concepts, theories, and areas of inquiry.

* SOCI 172 is a new course that we first offered in fall of 2017. It explores nationwide population-based patterns and trends in US health and sociologically-based explanations for those patterns and trends.

* SOCI 422 focuses on the uniqueness of the sociological perspective in understanding mental health and illness. It draws upon various theoretical perspectives to best understand patterns, trends, and definitions of mental health and illness in social context. It also focuses on how social factors influence definitions, perceptions, patterns and trends of mental health and illness.

* SOCI 469 focuses on the examination of health and illness through a sociological lens. In particular, students learn how to use their sociological imagination to understand how health—a seemingly individual issue—is actually a public/social issue that reflects a larger social context.

1 Elective (Choose 1 from the Following):

SOCI 121:         Population Problems

SOCI 122:         Race and Ethnic Relations

SOCI 124:         Sex and Gender in Society

SOCI 130:         Family and Society

SOCI 133:         Sociology of Politics

SOCI 274:         Social and Economic Justice

SOCI 277:         Societies and Genomics

SOCI 410:         Formal Organizations and Bureaucracy

SOCI 411:         Social Movements & Collective Behavior

SOCI 412:         Social Stratification

SOCI 414:         The City and Urbanization

SOCI 415:         Economy and Society

SOCI 420:         Political Sociology

SOCI 424:         Law and Society

SOCI 431:         Aging

SOCI 433:         Immigration in Contemporary America

SOCI 444:         Race, Class, and Gender

SOCI 468:         United States Poverty and Public Policy

Students interested in learning more about the Health and Society minor may contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies – Howard Aldrich (– or the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies – Claire Chipman (

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