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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Winter Session 2020 will run from December 26, 2019 to January 18, 2020, with three-week on-campus classes beginning on January 2, 2020. We will update the Winter Session site in September. If you would like to receive an email when this happens, please join our email list. In the meantime, you may want to browse through the site to get an idea of what we offer.

Practicing Health Equity: Theory and Fieldwork in North Brooklyn

January 3-18, 2019


Weill Cornell Medical Center

This two-credit, experiential program combines health equity studies with anthropological fieldwork aimed at improving people's lives and sustaining communities in North Brooklyn.

Every morning, you'll attend lectures by Weill Cornell Medicine faculty on the theory of health equity.

During afternoon sessions, you'll apply what you've learned in the classroom as you conduct fieldwork in North Brooklyn, investigate health disparities, and write a final report offering concrete solutions.

Program highlights

  1. Explore the social determinants in health care, disparities in health care delivery and outcomes, and the conditions and processes one can put into place to increase health equity.
  2. Learn basic fieldwork methods in medical anthropology, including observation, photovoice, reflexivity, informal and formal interviewing, and team research skills.
  3. Work closely with Cornell anthropologist Sam Beck, Weill Cornell Medicine faculty and physicians, and community leaders.
  4. Carry out an anthropological case study of a North Brooklyn neighborhood (either Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, or Bedford-Stuyvesant):
    • Investigate the social determinants of health through participant observation fieldwork, including exploring the neighborhood by walking through it, making observations, and engaging people (including physicians and leaders of community-based organizations) in informal interviews
    • Conduct online research to discover disparities indicators
  5. Write a case study (minimum of 10 pages) addressing the social determinants of health and how to achieve greater health equity in your neighborhood.

Who should attend

This course is open to college undergraduates and recent college graduates from Cornell and other colleges and universities who are interested in increasing health equity.

In 2017, the Committee on Community-Based Solutions to Promote Health Equity in the United States determined that achieving health equity requires

  • Identifying the multiple features and factors that influence and shape health in communities
  • Collaboration across many domains, including physical environment, public safety, social environment, transportation education, employment, health systems and services, housing, and income and the accumulation of wealth.

Because of the need for an interdisciplinary approach to health equity, this course is designed to be especially helpful for students interested in social justice, inequality studies, race relations, intersectionality, human rights, clinical medicine, public health, ethnographic methods, sociology, anthropology, urban studies, public policy, using photography in research, and becoming an agent of change.