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Foundations of Social Epidemiology

June 10 - June 28, 2024
Online Course
3 Credits
Course Number: 340.666.89

"Dr. Dean is very knowledgeable and passionate in this field and that came through in each lecture."—Student, 2023

"Besides the content being so original and useful for me (i.e., not a mere review), I truly appreciate the structure of this course. This course was incredibly organized, and really well paced"—Student, 2022

Course Instructors:


Students learn to apply social epidemiologic concepts, introduced through weekly online lectures and readings, and the use of discussions and case studies. Prepares students to understand and appreciate the contribution of social factors to disease etiology, course and the distribution of states of health in populations. After reviewing the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of social epidemiology from an historical perspective, we focus on the scientific findings in the field from the 1970's until today. The influence of social context on behavior is well known, and forms the backbone for most health promotion interventions; we focus initially on how the social environment influences behavior, by shaping norms, reinforcing social control, providing environmental opportunity, and coping strategies.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Explain the historical and theoretical underpinnings of the field of social epidemiology and discuss the major unsolved issues confronting the field

  2. Demonstrate the quality and limitations of measurement of key social conditions influencing health and illness of populations

  3. Distinguish between psychological (individual-based) approaches to discussing health disparities from the social perspective (community-based), and demonstrate how the empirical literature critically supports these differences for a particular health or disease state.

  4. Operate within and facilitate a discussion group format

Methods of Assessment:

Quizzes 20%, 2) Assignments 20%, 3) Participation 30%, 4) Final Paper 30%


340.751 or 340.601 or equivalent. Students must complete Introduction to Online Learning prior to enrolling in this course.