Improving health and reducing inequities worldwide


GHS 202D - Socio-cultural and Behavioral Determinants of Health

Course Director:

Kelly Knight, PhD

Course description:

This course will describe key cultural, social, and economic issues and methods in global health, and thus provide essential background for other core courses. The course is interdisciplinary, emphasizing the fields of anthropology, sociology, public health, global health, and critical global health studies. The content of this course examines the confluence of factors (including globalization, the impact of social, economic, and political systems, the local and global economy, transnational organizations, culture, race, class, gender, sexuality, and North/South inequalities) that create and sustain the conditions that lead to disparities in health status and health care both domestically and globally.

Teaching format:

Lectures, seminars, group work, discussion, assigned papers

Course credit:

3 units


At the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Delineate macro level political, institutional, policy, and structural factors that impact health and health care in relation to local, cultural, and regional contexts
  • Define what social, cultural, behavioral and economic determinants of health are and the processes involved in how these factors shape health and health inequalities
  • Identify the key players, institutions, political bodies, and non-governmental organizations that contribute to health promotion, policies, and disparities
  • Recognize the inadvertent positive and negative consequences of interventions that work to resolve some of the most important global health issues of our time

Course content:

  • Culture and health
  • Structural violence, structural adjustment, and fundamental causes of health
  • Five generations of research on socioeconomic status and global health
  • Gender relations and global health, including masculinities
  • Synergistic epidemics of violence and HIV
  • Race relations and global health
  • Globalization and transnational organizations
  • Critical assessment of global health measures and metrics
  • Medical compliance, and provider assessments of patient adherence
  • Structural interventions and health