About the Class

Course Description

Students will analyze how gender intersects with cultural models of medicine, sickness, health, and the human body across the world. The western medical model (biomedicine) will be evaluated alongside other medical models as one of many. We will also examine biomedicine from critical and feminist perspectives. We will look at the ways that the political, social, cultural, and economic lives of women and girls are shaped by medical structures, practices, and beliefs.

We will ask: How are girls’ and women’s lives being shaped by local and global medical systems? How are girls and women also actively shaping these medical systems? What medical knowledge is considered to be authoritative and what are the consequences for those that are not? We will look at the way that gender intersects with medical knowledge in a variety of systems, sometimes in ways that we appreciate and want to emulate and sometimes in ways that we would like to change. How a woman is made into and understood to be a woman is a cultural practice, but it is also, often, a medical practice. Likewise, health behaviors are also often gendered behaviors.

Course Load

 You should expect to spend an average of 6 hours a week on this course. This includes reading articles, visiting websites, writing posts/comments, watching videos, completing assignments, etc. Because the type of work varies from week to week, some weeks will seem to fly by, while others may take a bit more time.

Although there are no multiple choice quizzes or final exams (which may be exciting news to some) – this a writing intensive course. Between the blog posts/comments and the final project, you will be writing an average of 1000-1400 words per week. Please make sure you are up to this task before deciding to keep this course on your schedule.


This class is based in WordPress (where you are now) – this is where all of the required course materials (videos, readings, links, etc.) are posted. This is also where you will be posting to the class blog and leaving comments on other students’ posts. Most importantly, all course Announcements are posted on WordPress, which means you need to log into this site at least once a day. I will not send out any mass class emails via D2L; if I have something important to convey, I will post it on the Announcements page. I suggest you set it as your homepage and check it in the morning or before you go to bed. This is an interactive course, so make sure you are interacting! As you may know by now, online courses require being very proactive and staying on top of deadlines and requirements as you do not have a dedicated class session to receive reminders.

Desire 2 Learn

We will be using D2L for the grade book, which we will update periodically through the semester. Check your grades frequently to be sure I have not missed any assignment you completed correctly. When the course opens, the universal username/password for the video lectures will be posted as a news item on D2L. Other than accessing this password and checking your grades, you will not find any course materials on D2L.

Weekly Schedule

You will follow a pretty standard format for the week to help you remember to turn things in on time.

  • Every day: Log on to WordPress (WP), check for announcements, work through materials, read others’ blog posts, etc.
  • Monday: New schedules for the week are released under the “schedule” tab on WP
  • Friday: All activity post and blog post assignments are due by 11:59pm EST on WP
  • Sunday: All blog comment assignments are due by 11:59pm EST on WP

**EXCEPT for the final week of class, which is shorter, so everything will be due earlier**

Class Technology

To take this class, all you need is a browser (Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome are preferred) and a high-speed Internet connection. While you can connect to many of the course materials using a slower Internet connection, there are some things that you simply will not be able to access (such as the course videos or lecture videos). We understand that computers are not infallible. However, it is your responsibility to resolve any technical issues that originate on your end. It is a good idea to not wait until the last minute to complete assignments, that way if you have a technical issue you will have time to resolve it way before the deadline. Technical issues will not be a legitimate excuse for turning in late work.

Honors Option

If you would like to pursue an honors option for this course, please email me to let me know as soon as you decide you are interested. Please follow this link to find details about the honors option. In addition, you must email me with your proposed paper topic and receive my approval for your topic by no later than Sunday, July 29th (the end of Week 4). Your honors option project is due on the last day of class, Thursday, August 16th. There will be no exceptions to these deadlines.

Open Access & Licensing

This class adheres to the philosophy of open courseware and open access.  As such, course materials are open and accessible to the public.  This includes some of the assignments – specifically the blog posts.  As such, students should think of themselves as not just taking a class, but as contributing to the pool of scholarship on anthropology.  This also means that students need to think about how they want to license their work (in other words, how you would like other people to be able to use your work?).

When students post to the course website, they will be able to choose a specific Creative Commons license.  Each license (there are 6 to choose from) gives the author a simple, standardized way to grant copyright permissions to their creative work.

When you post to the course blog, you will choose the Creative Commons license you want to assign to your post (pictured above)

Be sure to review the Creative Commons licenses – think about which one works best for you.

It is very important to note any student (at any time during or after the semester) can opt not to have their class materials be open access.  Just talk to the course instructor, and they’ll make it happen immediately.  It is equally important to note that any student who chooses to do this will not be penalized in any way at all.  The content students produce for this class belongs to them, and they have total control over how it lives out in the wider world.

Video Lectures

A lot of the content of this class is delivered using video. Some of the videos are embedded into the schedule (most course lectures) while others are linked to outside websites (screencast, YouTube, etc.)

In order to ensure that you have the best experience with this video material, make sure you are using an up-to-date version of a modern browser (such as Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Google Chrome) and are accessing the course materials over a high speed Internet connection. While you can access much of the course content over a slower Internet connection, you need a high speed connection for the course video materials.


This class doesn’t have a textbook (which is good because it means you don’t have to go out and buy anything).  However, the class has a lot of assigned online readings (either in the form of online articles or downloadable PDFs).  It is extremely important to remember that all readings are mandatory for the class, and must be completed.  If you don’t keep up with your readings, you won’t do well on the assignments.

Academic Integrity

In accordance with Michigan State University’s policies on “Protection of Scholarship and Grades” and “Integrity of Scholarship and Grades,” students are expected to honor principles of truth and honesty in their academic work. Academic integrity means, amongst other things, not plagiarizing. Plagiarism includes submitting another’s work (words, ideas, etc.) as your own, or knowingly permitting another student to copy and submit your work. Additional discussion of academic integrity is available on the Ombudsperson’s website.

Students with Disabilities

Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Requests for accommodations by persons with disabilities may be made by contacting the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities at 517-884-RCPD or on the web at rcpd.msu.edu. Once your eligibility for an accommodation has been determined, you will be issued a verified individual services accommodation (“VISA”) form. Please present this form to me at the start of the term and/or two weeks prior to the accommodation date (test, project, etc). Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Limits to Course Confidentiality

Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University’s student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, may not be able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report certain issues to protect the health and safety of MSU community members and others. As the instructor, I must report the following information to other University offices (including the Department of Police and Public Safety) if you share it with me:

  • Suspected child abuse/neglect, even if this maltreatment happened when you were a child,
  • Allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment when they involve MSU students, faculty, or staff, and
  • Credible threats of harm to oneself or to others.

These reports may trigger contact from a campus official who will want to talk with you about the incident that you have shared. In almost all cases, it will be your decision whether you wish to speak with that individual. If you would like to talk about these events in a more confidential setting you are encouraged to make an appointment with the MSU Counseling Center.


Image Attribution

Photo “Out adventuring in Playa del Ray, California.” by Unsplash user Marion Michele/Creative Commons License CC0 1.0