COURSE OBJECTIVE: In this course, students will analyze the relationship between culture and health and illness. Western ideas about what health and illness are – and how to promote health and avoid and treat sickness – will be compared to other ideas about health and illness across the globe. Health disparities research inside the United States is a lens through which we can see culture at work in our bodies. We will build on ideas from ANP 101 and 201 to understand how culture gives meaning to birth, death, and living. Though often invisible to the people inside a culture, medical systems enact particular cultural values. We will ask two big questions this semester:

  1. How do humans understand medicine?
    We will look at differences and commonalities in the ways that we understand what medicine is in a variety of different systems and places. We will try to place biomedicine as one of many kinds of medical systems and as a system that expresses specific cultural values.
  2. What are the consequences for how we understand medicine (birth/death/life)?
    Specifically, how do we decide who has authoritative medical knowledge? What are the consequences for those people who do not have authoritative medical knowledge?

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 all of the assignments, you will be writing an average of 1,000-1,400 words per week. If this is not what you were expecting, now is your chance to drop (no hard feelings).

WORDPRESS: This class in based in WordPress (where you are now) – this is where all of the course materials (videos, readings, links, etc.) are posted. This is also where you will be posting to the course blog and leaving comments. Most importantly, all course announcements are posted on this site which means you need to log into this site at least once a day. Set it as your homepage, check it in the morning, or before you go to bed. This is an interactive course, so make sure you are interacting!

Desire 2 Learn: We will be using D2L for the grade book which we will update periodically through the semester. Other than that, you do not need to check D2L for any course materials or announcements.

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

  • Everyday: Log on to WordPress (WP), check for announcements, work through materials, read other’s blog posts, etc.
  • Monday: New schedule for the week is released under “schedule” tab on WP
  • Friday: Blog Post assignment due by 11:59pm EST on WP
  • Sunday: 2 Blog Comment assignments are due by 11:59pm EST on WP

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.

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 your work (aka. 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.  Its 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 asMozilla 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.

To access the video materials, you may need to login with a user name and password – this is different than your WordPress login and is the same for everyone. You should have received this user name and password in the introduction email.

READINGS: There is one required book for the course which you can either purchase physically, digitally, or rent from the library. You can also find a free PDF for the book listed below. You will start reading this during week 2 so make sure you have access to it before then.

Amazon link to The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

Free PDF of the Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down.

This course also 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 (unless other wise noted) 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. PERIOD.

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 someone else’s work (words, ideas, etc.) as their own now will the knowingly permit another student to copy and submit their 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.


Photo “medical treatment” by Flickr user tomek.pl/Creative Commons licensed BY-NC-ND