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HEL-3005 Society, Culture and Public Health - 10 ECTS
The course offers a theoretical framework for critical reflections of issues related to social and cultural aspects of health, illness, sickness and disease.
The main topics are:
- What creates health and illness? Medical and social determinants of health, with a focus on social determinants of health, and how the health of the population is connected to social, political and material conditions.
- Social and geographical inequalities in health, what they look like, why they emerge, and how they can be reduced.
- Different perspectives on health and illness, including the relation between biomedical, cultural and experiential perspectives.
- Cultural perspectives on health and illness, related to three dimensions: cross-cultural differences, historical differences and differences between lay and professional perceptions.
- Modern western conceptions of health and illness and medicalisation: expressions, driving forces and implications.
- The importance of cultural sensitivity in health-related work and conceptions of health and illness in the indigenous Sami population.
- Cultural understandings of professional knowledge and the practice of public health.
Knowledge and understanding
Students are expected to understand
- how public health work builds on knowledge, assumptions and views about causes of diseases, and the role of the state in health promotion and disease prevention
- how perspectives and theories from different scientific disciplines form the scientific basis of all public health related work
- the relationship between culture, society and public health
- social determinants that shape the health of a population
- the relationship between health and society
- socio-economic inequalities in health: what they look like, why they emerge, and how they can be reduced, and
- the cultural dimension of health and illness and public health work.
Skills and competences
Students are expected to demonstrate ability to
- reflect on public health issues on the basis of sociocultural perspectives, theories and explanations of health and illness
- reflect on policy implications of different perspectives of health and illness
- reflect on the culturally and historically contingency of conceptions of health and illness, and
- to discuss public health issues on the basis of sociocultural perspective on health and illness.
Students are expected to
- obtain proficiency about how professional knowledge and clinical practice are influenced by the cultural context in which it is created and embedded; how all professional knowledge and practice of health professionals have normative elements, and why knowledge about the people and their culture is of vital importance for all who work with public health issues, and
- develop respect for the intrinsic value of human beings, and tolerance for variations in human lifestyles.
Home assignment (a written essay) on a given topic (2-3,000 words), written in English. The students will be given one week to write the home assignment. This paper is compulsory, and has to be written individually. The home assignment should be handed in online. The assignment will be graded as approved or not approved. Attendance to lectures and seminars is mandatory.
The final exam consists of an individual take home exam on a given topic. The writing time is 2 weeks and the text should not exceed 2500 words (excluding references). The exam is to be handed in online as specified in the exam text. Students must have delivered and gotten the obligatory assignment approved before taking the exam. Language: English. Grading scale: A-E equals passed, F equals failed.
If a student fails the course, an examination re-sit will be organised. Students with valid absence from the exam will be offered a re-scheduled examination. See examination regulations.
Date for examinationWritten home exam hand out date 15.10.2020 hand in date 29.10.2020
The date for the exam can be changed. The final date will be announced in the StudentWeb early in May and early in November.