U.S. Health Justice Concentration

Danya Keene, Ph.D., Director

This cross-departmental YSPH concentration prepares students to analyze and address systems and processes that perpetuate health injustice in the United States. Students examine how historical and current systems of privilege and power, related to race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and other identities, create unequal burdens on health that are avoidable and unjust. Students also develop organizing, advocacy, and policy skills that prepare them to advance health justice. Finally, students develop tools to analyze public health research methods, discourse, and practice using a health justice framework.

Though not limited to Connecticut, the concentration emphasizes local health needs and will involve sustained partnerships with local organizations that are working to advance health justice. The concentration has the following components described in detail below: (1) a required core course in health activism and advocacy; (2) a required critical public health analysis course; (3) two additional course selected from a menu of course options to meet additional learning objectives; and (4) a practicum or summer internship in health justice with a partner organization.

Concentration Requirements

SBS 590Advocacy and Activism1
One of the following courses:
SBS 592Biomedical Justice: Public Health Critiques and Praxis1
SBS 593Community-Based Participatory Research in Public Health1
One of the following applied practice experiences: 1
EPH 501U.S. Health Justice Concentration Practicum1
EPH 521Summer Internship - APE0
HPM 555Health Policy or Health Care Management Practicum1
HPM 556Advanced Health Policy Practicum1
SBS 562Inclusive Design for the Built Environment: Participatory Design1

One course that critically analyzes the roles of history, power, and privilege in creating and maintaining health inequities, selected from the following approved courses:

ARCH 3272Exhibitionism: Politics of Display 23
CDE 545Health Disparities by Race and Social Class: Application to Chronic Disease Epidemiology1
CDE 570Humanities, Arts, and Public Health1
EMD 584Advanced Global Health Justice Practicum: Fieldwork1
ENV 649Food Systems: The Implications of Unequal Access 33
ENV 846Perspectives on Environmental Injustices 33
HIST 479Sickness and Health in African American History 41
HSHM 406Healthcare for the Urban Underserved 41
HSHM 424Citizenship, Race, and Public Health in U.S. History1
HSHM 436Health and Incarceration in U.S. History 41
HSHM 465Reproductive Health, Gender & Power in the U.S. 41
HSHM 475Race and Disease in American Medicine 41
SBS 531Health and Aging1
SBS 560Sexual and Reproductive Health1
SBS 570LGBTQ Population Health1
SBS 581Stigma and Health1
SBS 587Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Reform1

One course that discusses how systems of government and law affect health equity at the local, state, and national level, selected from the following approved courses:

EMD 582Political Epidemiology1
ENV 975Western Lands and Communities Field Clinic: Research to Practice 33
EPH 555Clinic in Climate Justice and Public Health1
HPM 514Health Politics, Governance, and Policy1
HPM 588Public Health Law1
SBS 585Sexuality, Gender, Health, and Human Rights1


Each student in the U.S. Health Justice Concentration will master the core curriculum competencies and the competencies for the student’s department/program. In addition, upon receiving an M.P.H. degree in the U.S. Health Justice Concentration, the student will be able to:

  • Develop community organizing and health advocacy strategies to advance health equity
  • Analyze the national, state, and local regulatory environment as leverage points to impact policy change that advances health equity
  • Analyze the ways that power, privilege, and history shape the creation and interpretation of public health knowledge and practice
  • Employ multiple sources of evidence (e.g., narrative and epidemiological data) and a critical justice lens to construct persuasive arguments that advance health equity
  • Reflect on how their own positionality, subjectivity, power, and privilege shape their engagement in public health practice and advocacy