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Interdisciplinary Minor: Social Science and Medicine

The Social Science and Medicine minor allows students to understand and appreciate the relationships between the broader medical field, society and culture, and human behavior. Students explore how human health is affected by and contingent upon both the culture of medicine and the socio-economic-political approach to illness and health.

 There is a recognition of the importance of understanding human behavior and the socio-cultural aspects of illness, disease and medical systems (including practitioners). Social and cultural behavior can play a primary role in understanding disease processes, the expression of illness, the reception of diagnosis, efficacy of treatment, and eventually the value of medicine to individuals. Clearly these considerations are exacerbated and brought to public scrutiny under the pressure of an increasingly diverse population. These challenges to the medical profession are an ever-increasing concern for nursing and medical schools. To address these concerns and better prepare students, and ultimately health care professionals, an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to understanding human behavior is necessary. An interdisciplinary minor allows students to best draw those electives that would strengthen this aspect of their liberal arts education. A critical and analytical approach to understanding health and human behavior better prepares students who are engaged in an applied and/or scientific approach to the human condition.

Completion of this minor enhances the undergraduate education of students who pursue professional careers in the medical field (e.g., doctor, nurses), field of social work and public health, research careers related to medicine (e.g., sociology, history of medical, medical anthropology, environmental health) or business administration within health services.

Learning objectives 

  • Investigating different approaches within the social sciences to the study of health, illness and medical systems
  • Analyzing health care systems from an interdisciplinary and international perspective
  • Identifying the role of culture, economics and politics in the distribution, development, delivery and reception of health care and medical science
  • Comprehending and appreciating the complexity and variation of competing and/or supplemental medical systems
  • Evaluating individuals’ responses and responsibilities to health and illness issues (behavioral and developmental factors)
  • Understanding the integrated and complex relationship between medicine and social/cultural factors including: age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socio-economic status

Course Selection 

The minor will require a total of 18 credits but no more than 9 credits from any one discipline. 


(Nine credits from List A are required, but no more than 6 credits in one discipline)

One of the following courses: 
ANT 312 - Medical Anthropology 
SOC 344 -  Medical Sociology 
PCH 351 - Health in Society

One of the following courses:
ANT 206 - Cultural Ecology
PHI 324 - Bioethics
PCH 359 - Environmental Health

One of the following courses:
ANT/WMS 380 - Anthropology of Women & Health
SOC 345 - Aging & the Aged
PCH 349 -  Men’s Health

Nine additional credits from List A and B are required, but not more than 12 credits from one discipline.

List B

PSY 318 - Emotional/Social Development
SHE 389 - Holistic Health
PSY 366 - Health Psychology
WMS 505/PCH 505 - Women Heal Thyself
ANT 222 - Modern Human Variation
PCH 353 - Global Health

For more information, please contact:

Kathleen Skoczen, Ph.D.
Department of Anthropology
Engleman Hall C 027B