With the concentration in Health & Well-Being, I was able to take a variety of courses which offered unique perspectives on different aspects of health and medicine. I took several anthropology courses after discovering a love for this field which highlighted the ways in which culture intersects with medical practices. My introductory course in political science focused on global issues and potential solutions. My nursing and statistics courses each provided me with a unique set of skills to help me better understand the world and to contribute to its well-being as a global citizen.

Coursework Descriptions

Introduction to Global Studies was the first course I took within this field, and it was very eye-opening for me. I learned what globalization meant for the first time, and we read many articles which provided new perspectives on how this phenomenon affects different areas of the world in different ways. I wrote several papers for this class and engaged in critical discussions with classmates. This class got me interested in pursuing a Global Studies certificate to further explore these types of topics and specifically the impacts on health.

Patients and Healers was a medical anthropology course which taught me to view medicine from different perspectives. We studied many alternative forms of medicine and how they are conceptualized within different cultural and historical contexts. At first, it was difficult for me to understand what made people trust in these other forms of medicine which seemed to have no basis to me, but over time, I learned to step outside of my own preconceptions to imagine life from other viewpoints. We also examined the roles of religion, spirituality, and environment in medicine in some cases. This was the first anthropology class I had ever taken so I also learned a great deal about the field and ethnography.

Anthropology and Science was a very unique course which appealed to my interests. There were only five students enrolled in the course so we got to have very engaging discussions with our professor. We started the course by talking about the ideal pillars of science which include objectivity, sharing of information, reproducibility, etc. We then went on to talk about the degree to which these ideals are met and to discuss how science functions in our society. We talked about the standard scientific method which is emphasized in western biomedical sciences and also alternate ways in which people can collect legitimate data and information. This course helped me to view my own area of study with a more critical and broader lens.

Health and the Body in Pittsburgh was another unique anthropology course which examined environmental health on a smaller scale, specifically the city of Pittsburgh. Each member of our class chose a different neighborhood in Pittsburgh to focus on throughout the semester. I chose Braddock, PA which is located right outside of some of the major steel mills and has become largely vacant in recent decades. We got to not only study anthropology, but also to practice it through site visits, interviews, and a final research presentation on our findings. At the end of the semester, we got to learn about many of the Pittsburgh neighborhoods and the environmental health quality and risk factors by listening to our classmate’s presentations. This was a very engaging and interactive class which also featured multiple guest speakers who came to talk to our class about topics such as fracking and citizen science.

Wilderness First Responder training was a nursing course which I took while studying abroad in Mussoorie, India. We learned about a variety of illnesses and conditions which could develop in a wilderness setting and practical skills to care for such patients until further care could reach a site. We practiced these skills through interactive patient scenarios. At the end of the course, we received out official certification as Wilderness First Responders. Taking this course in the Himalayas was a very unique experience because we got to practice wilderness skills in a wilderness setting. These are universal skills which we can each take with us on our future adventures to potentially save a life.

Statistics was a very beneficial course because it applies to nearly every field. It helps us to make sense of large masses of data whether that data be from scientific research or ethnographic observations or global indexes. Statistics has given me practical tools which I can use in my future career and to understand data presented in articles.

Other Relevant Courses

Himalayan Health and Medicine was an anthropology course which dove deeper into the variety of medical practices which are prevalent in India. I took this course while studying abroad in Mussoorie, India. It was very interesting to take this course while I was in India because I had the chance to see many of the things we were learning in practice. We were able to shadow at a local hospital to compare how biomedicine functions differently than in the US, and while we were exploring the town, we saw signs and shops which provided other forms of medicine such as ayurveda.