Social and Behavioral Sciences

SBS 500a or b, Independent Study in Social and Behavioral SciencesTrace Kershaw

This class provides an opportunity for M.P.H. students to work with an SBS faculty member on a supervised independent research study or directed course of readings. Prior to acceptance into this course, students must prepare a thirteen-week work plan and obtain approval from the supervising faculty and course director. Students enrolled in the course are expected to spend approximately ten hours per week on proposed course activities and to complete a final project that will be evaluated by the supervising faculty member. Students may enroll in this course up to two times during their M.P.H. program of study.

[ SBS 505, Accelerated Social and Behavioral Foundations of Health ]

This intensive seven-week summer course provides students with an introduction to social and behavioral science issues that influence patterns of health and health care delivery. The focus is on the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal influences that must be taken into consideration when public health initiatives are developed and implemented. This course emphasizes the integration of research from the social and behavioral sciences with epidemiology and biomedical sciences. Not open to students in the traditional two-year M.P.H. program.  1 Course cr

SBS 525a and SBS 526b, Seminar in Social and Behavioral SciencesTrace Kershaw

This seminar is conducted once a month and focuses on speakers and topics of particular relevance to SBS students. Students are introduced to research activities of the department’s faculty members, with regular presentations by invited researchers and community leaders. The seminar is required of first-year SBS students. Although no credit or grade is awarded, satisfactory performance will be noted on the student’s transcript.  0 Course cr per term
T 12pm-12:50pm

SBS 529a, Foundations of Behavior ChangeMarney White

This course provides an introduction to behavioral theory as it pertains to health and health care delivery. The focus is on the integration of social, psychological, and behavioral factors that must be considered in developing and implementing best clinical practice and public health initiatives. This course emphasizes the use of empirical evidence from the social and behavioral sciences as the basis of public health practice and policy. Not open to auditors.
W 10am-11:50am

SBS 531a, Health and AgingBecca Levy

This course explores the ways psychosocial and biological factors influence aging health. Topics include interventions to improve mental and physical health; effects of ageism on health; racial and gender health disparities in later life; and how health policy can best adapt to the growing aging population. Students have the opportunity to engage in discussions and to develop a research proposal on a topic of interest.
T 5pm-6:50pm

SBS 537b, Social and Interpersonal Influences on HealthJoan Monin

Social relationships, such as friends, family, romantic partners, neighbors, and coworkers, are an important part of our lives. They are the targets of our behaviors, for example, when we help, love, fight, and discriminate against others. They are the basis of our feelings of status and self-esteem and why we experience the majority of our emotions. Importantly, social relationships have strong influences on our mental and physical health. The purpose of this class is to learn about different ways of conceiving of our social environment, and how these social factors can contribute to our mental and physical health. We critically review the literature that examines the associations between social factors and mental and physical health. We address several social concepts, and in each case discuss how they “get under the skin” to influence health.
M 10am-11:50am

SBS 540Eb, Monitoring and Evaluation in Public Health: Principles and ApplicationsRafael Perez-Escamilla

Lack of proper formative, process, and impact program monitoring and evaluation (M&E) is one of the biggest roadblocks to delivering cost-effective public health programs. This highly interactive course covers M&E principles, concepts, frameworks, and methods. Students apply real-world case studies to learn how M&E can be used in the design, implementation, and maintenance of high-quality and equitable public health programs on a large scale. Open only to students enrolled in the Executive Online M.P.H. Program. Not open to auditors.
M 8am-9am

SBS 541a, Community Health Program EvaluationKathleen Duffany

This course develops students’ skills in designing program evaluations for public health programs, including nongovernmental and governmental agencies in the United States and abroad. Students learn about different types of summative and formative evaluation models and tools for assessment. The course content is based on an ecological framework, principles of public health ethics, a philosophy of problem-based learning, and critiques of evaluation case studies. Students write evaluation plans for a specific existing public health program. Students may also work as a team with a local community health agency reviewing their evaluation plans and providing guidance on developing a program evaluation plan for one of the agency’s public health programs. Not open to auditors.
Th 3pm-4:50pm

SBS 560b, Sexual and Reproductive HealthOlivia Kachingwe

The purpose of this course is to provide students with a foundational understanding of U.S.-based sexual and reproductive health (SRH) advancements, ongoing challenges, and public health interventions and programs. A myriad of SRH topics will be covered ranging from abortion and reproductive rights to sexual violence. Grounded in health equity, this course illuminates how the reproductive oppression of minorities and vulnerable populations of the past are still pervasive today. The course material pushes students to examine how various determinants of health such as race and socioeconomic status affect access and utilization of SRH services, education, and technologies, which ultimately leads to reproductive health disparities and injustice. Although having a foundational understanding of current SRH challenges is important, this course is also solutions and asset focused. Thus, students explore how and to what extent efforts have been made to mitigate SRH disparities. Using the social-ecological model as a guiding framework, students explore solutions on the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal/political level. The course includes ample discussion, individual presentations, group debates, and discussion board posts.
W 3pm-4:50pm

SBS 562a, Inclusive Design for the Built Environment: Participatory DesignJoel Sanders

This interdepartmental seminar is a practicum that bridges academic theory and practice, allowing students to learn and apply Participatory Design tools by engaging with an institutional partner on an actual case study project. These engagement practices combine techniques from Public Health (needs assessment, built environment assessment) and Architecture (site assessments, body maps, co-design workshops), geared to obtaining data that measures the impact of the built environment on health and well-being that can inform the design process. At the end of the term, students generate an Inclusive Design Brief, an illustrated report that describes recommendations for addressing the intersecting needs of people of different ages, genders, races, religions and disabilities. Applications should include name, department/school, prior academic or life experiences that prepares you for the class, reasons for taking the class, and how the class will be helpful in the future. Please send application to both and
W 1:30pm-3:20pm

[ SBS 565, Trauma and Health ]

The majority of people will be exposed to one or more traumatic events over the course of their lives. Although exposure to trauma is associated with increased risk for myriad adverse consequences for health and well-being, most survivors are resilient and “bounce back” to their pre-trauma levels of functioning. This course engages students in understanding the factors that shape both exposure to traumatic events and the variability in post-trauma outcomes, with a focus on trauma-related mental health conditions. The first half of the course provides foundational information on the assessment and epidemiology of traumatic events; mental and physical health conditions associated with trauma exposure; biological and sociocultural factors that influence trauma exposure and post-trauma outcomes; and public health and clinical approaches to preventing and mitigating trauma. The second half allows for application of this foundational information to specific trauma types (e.g., sexual violence, disasters), based in part on student interest. Assignments require students to critically evaluate state-of-the-science research on trauma and health; identify and explain an intervention or policy geared toward preventing or mitigating trauma; and synthesize empirical literature on a topic of their choice related to trauma and health.  1 Course cr

SBS 570b, LGBTQ Population HealthJohn Pachankis

Sexual and gender minority individuals (e.g., those who identify as LGBTQ) represent a key health disparity population in the United States and worldwide, but high-quality evidence of this problem has historically been slow to accumulate. This course engages students in critically examining today’s rapidly expanding empirical knowledge regarding sexual and gender minority health by considering challenges to, and opportunities for, conducting this research with methodological rigor. Students consider social and ecological influences on sexual and gender minority health, including migration, community, and neighborhood influences. Social institutions, including religion, school, family, and close relationships, are examined as sources of both stress and support. Given the relevance of individual and collective identity and stress as mechanisms through which stigma impacts sexual and gender minority health, the empirical platform of the course is complemented by intersectionality theory, critical postmodern work on identity fluidity and multiplicity across the life course, and minority stress conceptualizations of health. Students apply lessons learned in the course to evaluating and developing policy and health care interventions for this increasingly visible segment of the global population.
Th 1pm-2:50pm

SBS 573b, Social and Cultural Factors in Mental Health and IllnessJeannette Ickovics

This course provides an introduction to mental health and illness with a focus on the complex interplay between risk and protective factors and social and cultural influences on mental health status. We examine the role of social and cultural factors in the etiology, course, and treatment of substance misuse; depressive, anxiety, and psychotic disorders; and some of the severe behavioral disorders of childhood. The social consequences of mental illness such as stigma, isolation, and barriers to care are explored, and their impact on access to care and recovery considered. The effectiveness of the current system of services and the role of public health and public health professionals in mental health promotion are discussed.
T 1pm-2:50pm

SBS 574b, Developing a Health Promotion and Disease Prevention InterventionTrace Kershaw

The primary objective of the course is to gain experience in intervention research by developing a health promotion and disease prevention intervention. Students choose a health problem (e.g., physical inactivity, smoking, HIV risk) and develop an intervention focused on favorably changing the determinants and behaviors that influence the health problem. The course emphasizes transferring concepts from the abstract to the concrete. Students develop an intervention manual consisting of actual intervention materials and methods that specifically outline how the intervention will be designed and implemented.
TTh 3pm-4:20pm

[ SBS 577, Health Communication and the Media ]

Inasmuch as they influence and reflect cultural norms, media messages can influence nearly every aspect of human behavior. This class examines the role of various media in educating and influencing health. Beginning with an understanding of the theory and mechanisms of persuasive communication, we aim to integrate key concepts of advertising with public health promotion and risk prevention. Students learn to evaluate public health media campaigns and intervention effectiveness. Students practice developing health education materials using various media (print, video, audio, targeted brief messaging) and develop a proposal for an evidence-based communication campaign. Prerequisites: SBS 529/EPH 533E. Not open to auditors.  1 Course cr

SBS 580b, Qualitative Research Methods in Public HealthAshley Hagaman

This is a course about doing qualitative social research in public health. The course, which has both theoretical and practical components, introduces students to various epistemological, philosophical, and ethical considerations that are involved with qualitative research methods and the practice of social science research more generally. Additionally, students gain hands-on experience with some of the strategies and techniques that are needed to conduct qualitative research.
Th 10am-11:50am, F 1pm-1:50pm

SBS 581a, Stigma and HealthKatie Wang

This course engages students in conceptualizing stigma as a fundamental cause of adverse health. After reviewing conceptual models of stigma, students examine the multiple mechanisms—both structural and individual—through which stigma compromises the health of a large proportion of U.S. and global populations. Given the relevance of identity and stress to the study of stigma and health, the empirical platform of the course is complemented by considering the relevance of conceptual models of identity, intersectionality, and minority stress. The course reviews social/behavioral and epidemiological methods for studying stigma. Students compare individual- and structural-level interventions to reduce both stigma at its source and its downstream impact on individual health. Class content is organized around themes that cut across all stigmatized conditions and identities. However, students devote course assignments to individual stigmas of their choice. Therefore, students can expect to explain stigma as a predicament that affects nearly all individuals at some point in the life course while developing expertise in one or two stigmas that are particularly relevant to their interests.
Th 1pm-2:50pm

[ SBS 584, Advanced Global Health Justice Practicum: Fieldwork ]

The course is primarily for students who previously have enrolled in EMD 596/SBS 596; however, new students will be considered. Permission of the instructor required.  1 Course cr

SBS 585a, Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human RightsStaff

This course explores the application of human rights perspectives and practices to issues in regard to sexuality, gender, and health. Through reading, interactive discussion, paper presentation, and occasional outside speakers, students learn the tools and implications of applying rights and law to a range of sexuality and health-related topics. The overall goal is twofold: to engage students in the world of global sexual health and rights policy making as a field of social justice and public health action; and to introduce them to conceptual tools that can inform advocacy and policy formation and evaluation. Class participation, a book review, an OpEd, and a final paper required. Enrollment limited. Permission of the instructor required.

[ SBS 587, Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Reform ]

In this course, students critically engage with issues surrounding harm reduction and drug policy reform, including underlying principles and current debates. Engaging with critical and social ecological approaches to the study of harm reduction and drug policy, this course emphasizes how drug-related harm is shaped by, among other things, racism, gender inequities, and poverty. This course concludes by imagining drug policy futures responsive to the structural violence experienced by people who use drugs. Learning is supported through in-class lectures and discussions, and applied through reflective, research, and applied assignments. This course seeks to prepare students to meaningfully engage with scholarly and applied work in the substance use field.  1 Course cr

SBS 588a or b / EMD 588a or b, Health Justice PracticumStaff

This is an experiential learning course focused on domestic and transnational health justice work. Health justice work focuses on health equity and is committed to addressing the fundamental social causes of disease. It also emphases power-building and political economy, instead of viewing health as a technocratic field where issues are resolved through application of expertise alone. Students work on projects supervised by faculty and in collaboration with outside partners. Projects change according to the needs of our partners and are generally determined at the beginning of each term. Credits vary according to the time commitment required by the projects. The course is designed for public health and law students, but other students may enroll where appropriate given project needs. Permission of the instructors required. The class is designed for students who are also taking, or have taken, EMD 596/SBS 596. In addition to listing this course among experiential course selections, non-Law students should submit a CV and a statement of interest by 4:30 pm on August 12. This course meets according to the Law School calendar and may establish special sessions and makeup sessions to accommodate any difference between schedules on the main campus and in the Law School.

SBS 590b, Advocacy and ActivismTekisha Everette

This course is designed to provide students with the theoretical frameworks and the practical applications of community organizing and advocacy as a means of subverting traditional systems of power and advancing health justice. Employing an intersectional lens, students analyze and discuss how they can facilitate collective action for health equity through the exploration of historical and contemporary contexts of political activism among marginalized communities in the United States. The course focuses on the strategic vision for mobilizing individuals directly impacted by public policies to build community power and cultivate political influence. Students learn about theories of social change and various models of community organizing and advocacy; explore the role of coalitions; and discuss the state and local regulatory environment and the potential leverage points available to impact policy change. Throughout the class, students also work to refine their writing and speaking skills, which are integral to advocacy work.
M 1pm-2:50pm

[ SBS 592, Biomedical Justice: Public Health Critiques and Praxis ]

This course provides students with tools to analyze and critique public health methodology, discourse, and practice from a health justice framework. SBS 590 or permission of instructor  1 Course cr

SBS 593a, Community-Based Participatory Research in Public HealthIjeoma Opara

The goal of this course is to provide students with an overview of theories, principles, and strategies associated with community-based participatory research (CBPR) in public health. This is an introductory course on CBPR and is intended for graduate students and community practitioners interested in adding CBPR as an effective strategy to understanding and addressing health disparities in public health and ultimately achieving health equity.
T 1pm-2:50pm

SBS 594a, Maternal-Child Public Health NutritionRafael Perez-Escamilla

This course examines how nutrition knowledge gets translated into evidence-informed maternal-child food and nutrition programs and policies. Using multisectorial and interdisciplinary case-study examples, the course highlights (1) socioeconomic, cultural, public health, and biomedical forces that determine maternal-child nutrition well-being; and (2) how this understanding can help shape effective programs and policies capable of improving food and nutrition security of women and children. Topics include maternal-child nutrition programs, food assistance and conditional cash-transfer programs, and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Prerequisites: EPH 508 and BIS 505, or permission of the instructor.
M 10am-11:50am

SBS 600a or b, Independent Study or Directed ReadingsStaff

Independent study or directed readings on a specific research topic agreed upon by faculty and student. By arrangement with faculty. For Ph.D. students only.

SBS 610b, Applied Area Readings for Qualifying Exams Staff

Required of SBS Ph.D. students, in preparation for qualifying exams. Readings arranged with specific faculty in related research area. By arrangement with faculty.

SBS 640b / BIS 640b, User-Centered Design of Digital Health ToolsTerika McCall

This course combines needs assessment methods, user-centered design principles, and an agile approach to designing digital health tools for consumers. The class environment is designed to model that of a health tech start-up. Students are expected to apply what they learn from the lectures and readings to identify a pain point (i.e., a problem or need faced by a prospective user) and solicit input from intended users to design a prototype of the digital health tool. Solutions are presented in class to receive feedback on the design and to iteratively refine a prototype in order to create a minimum viable product. Prerequisite: BIS 560/CB&B 740, SBS 574, or permission of the instructor.
W 10am-11:50am

SBS 670b, Advanced Field Methods in Public HealthTrace Kershaw

The course offers direct experience in field methods in social and behavioral sciences for doctoral students and advanced M.P.H. students. Students are expected to actively participate as part of a research team (8–10 hours per week) doing field research in some aspect of social and behavioral sciences. It is expected that their progress will be directly supervised by the principal investigator of the research project. This course can be taken for one or two terms and may be taken for credit. Prerequisite: arrangement with a faculty member must be made in advance of registration.

[ SBS 676, Questionnaire Development ]

This course is designed to direct students through the process of questionnaire selection and development for use in health research. Questionnaires and surveys are used extensively in medical, epidemiological, and public health research. The specific questionnaire utilized has great potential to affect research conclusions. Students learn to critically evaluate existing measures and how to construct questionnaires for use in health research. Topics include constructs and operational definitions, writing and evaluating questionnaire items, item scaling, domain sampling, item wording and readability, test bias, and item weighting and scoring. Students learn how to evaluate psychometric indicators (e.g., internal consistency, reliability, and validity coefficients). Students are required to construct a questionnaire and are guided through all phases of questionnaire development, including item generation, scaling decisions, survey design, pilot testing, data collection, reliability analysis, and calculation of validity coefficients. The practical learning goal is to generate a publication-level questionnaire to evaluate a unique exposure history or health-related construct. By course end, students are able to critically evaluate existing measures and have the skills necessary to develop psychometrically valid tools for research. Prerequisites: EPH 508 and BIS 505 (may be taken concurrently). Open only to Public Health students (M.P.H., M.S., Ph.D.). Not open to auditors.  1 Course cr

SBS 699a, Advanced Topics in Social and Behavioral SciencesTrace Kershaw

This course provides an in-depth examination of key areas in the social and behavioral sciences. For each topic, we explore a general overview of the area and noted gaps in the literature, the primary theories driving research in the area, common methods and analytic techniques, and recent research examples. Students explore topics in current and emerging areas of social and behavioral sciences including topics focusing on health care, maternal-child health, reproductive health, mental health, social determinants of health, stigma, obesity, and aging. For Ph.D. students only.