CSPH 5111 - Ways of Thinking about Health

This course is traditionally offered in person. Check the class search for in person meeting dates and times. 

Note: This course is offered in remote online format for Fall 2021. Optional in person field trips may be available.

Course Description:

CSPH 5111 “Ways of Thinking about Health” is your opportunity to examine, challenge and critically reflect upon your thinking about health.  Field-trip “micro-immersion experience” offers you an opportunity to explore different understandings of health through visits to cultural communities.  The brief immersions facilitate experiential glimpses into fundamentally different worldviews and systems of thought that are often excluded by the scientific/professional models emphasized on campus.

In learning to engage different systems of thought, we emphasize your direct experience and interaction with knowledge holders in a community context.  Confronting cultural difference directly in this way offers a powerful mirror through which your own tacit perspective, thinking and assumptions of health become more visible and explicit.  Critical thinking, critical reflection and supplemental readings support your effort to empathetically think within culturally different knowledge systems and mental models, and to critically challenge your own thinking.  We will do our best to create a space that encourages us to share with sincerity our thoughts and emerging insights with one another in class de-briefing conversations. These in class de-briefings allow you benefit from each other’s take on the immersion experiences as you develop your own personal philosophy, narrative and understanding of health. 

Course Objectives:

  • Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to: 
    • Learn to experience fully the field trip experience.  Come to the immersion experience with as much openness and awareness as possible.
      • To the extent possible, listen and observe without expectations or judgment (with a quiet mind). 
      • Try your best to temporarily and empathetically step into and think within the perspectives you experience.
      • Reflect back upon your own thoughts and concepts of health.  What does the field trip experience illuminate about your own ideas?    
    • Look for and learn to recognize any dissonance, discomfort, tension or resonance between your own ideas and those encountered in the experiential learning as they happen.  Allow yourself to note these moments of visceral reaction for later reflection. 
    • Develop your capacity to surface and critically examine your own assumptions and ideas about health.  What are your deeply held and preconceived ideas? Where do they come from? Are they justified? Learn to take your own mind seriously as an object of study.  Reflect upon whether/how your ideas are being influenced by the field trip experience?   
    • Develop your capacity to fairmindedly and empathetically move across divergent worldviews while resisting the impulse to form judgments, impose basic ideas of one perspective upon another or translate one perspective in terms of another.    
    • Begin to recognize and reflect upon the cultural nature of your own habitual thought patterns and mental models.  Begin to recognize and critically reflect upon your own cognitive attachments to your habitual thought patterns and mental models.  Identify concepts and ideas have you held that are in need of reconsideration. Identify those that you want to hold onto as a resource. 
    • Develop your personal/professional narrative around the question “What is health”?  Your narrative may include your own definition, assumptions, essential concepts, indicators, examples and implications for you and/or others.  Please describe if/how your thinking has evolved in this class. 

Course Details

Course ID: 
CSPH 5111
Graduate Students, Undergraduate students with junior status or above, or instructor consent.
Semesters Course Offered: 
Course Flyer: 
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