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Health Studies Background

Health and illness are universal human concepts. People ask each other such questions as, how do I maintain my health?, and how do I avoid illness? Societies create professions, organizations, and institutions that search for answers to these (and related) questions. The academic study of health and illness at Dickinson is central to many courses in the life sciences and the research pursued by faculty in those disciplines. However, health-themed courses and scholarship are found across Dickinson’s curriculum, faculty, and students. Course titles and descriptions in the Bulletin reveal more than 30 different classes that regularly examine health topics and themes. These are spread across academic departments ranging from American Studies to Spanish.You can find faculty and students in all these disciplines who conduct health-related research that results in public presentations and publications.

Among the goals of Dickinson’s Health Studies program is to connect students with opportunities for pursuing health as a topic of academic study. Health Studies helps Dickinson students find faculty who teach and conduct research about health and courses in health-related topics. (Select the Faculty and Current Courses links in the black left menu on this page). Health Studies also promotes student involvement in health-related research (Student Research) and internships (Internships). Thanks to Dickinson’s strong cocurricular programs, Health Studies also creates, coordinates, and publicizes speakers and events on health topics.

But Health Studies does more than assemble centralized lists of faculty, courses, and events. Health can only be understood if we understand how people live their lives. Medicines for endemic diseases can be effective only if people have access to those medicines and understand why and how to use the medicines. This example shows that we must consider sociopolitical organization, economics, culture, and individual behavior, in addition to the biochemistry of medicines. Therefore, Health Studies also acquaints students with a variety of approaches for thinking about health-related issues. Dickinson students in the Pre-Health Program can broaden their perspective in Health Studies classes.

Health Studies also promotes connections with graduate programs in such fields as public health, epidemiology, and other intrinsically multidisciplinary fields. The “health sector” of our economy is growing. It requires not only more health care practitioners but also health educators, ethicists, health plan administrators and managers, and researchers. Health Studies informs students about the wide range of health related careers.   

Regardless of the career paths chosen by those who earn the Health Studies certificate, the program hopes that students will acquire skills to become active and informed participants in local, national, and international conversations about health policy, knowledgeable about the complexities of providing health care in local communities and in a global context, and advocates for the just and ethical allocation of health services.

Take a moment to look at Dickinson's own wiki link, with complete information about Health Studies as a field.