Anth 202

Health, Culture, and Society
(Nutrition, Disease, and Health)

MF 11:30-12:45

      SUNY College at Geneseo

Fall 2015


Instructor: Kristi J. Krumrine

Office: Bailey 147

Phone: (585) 281.3821 (cell)

              (585) 245.5043 (office)


Office Hrs: MF 1-2:30 or by appointment




Course Outline

 Description and Objectives

This course explores health and medical issues from a biocultural, ecological and interdisciplinary perspective, highlighting the diverse ways in which different cultures deal with and are affected by illness and disease. These issues are central to medical anthropology, a fast-growing subfield of anthropology. The main topics include the evolution of illness and disease, methods used to collect data, nutrition, growth, infectious disease and the effects of globalization, environmental degradation, ethnicity, political policies and war on disease transmission and treatment. Course material will be presented through lecture, films, and group presentations, and processed in class discussions, including online discussion forums.


Learning Outcomes

  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of health, nutrition, growth, disease and cultural diversity through examinations and class discussions.
  • ·       Students will demonstrate their understanding of the interaction between ecological, biological, political-economic and cultural factors that affect health and disease through examinations and class discussions.
  • ·       Students will demonstrate their ability to apply the anthropological approach as well as methods and theories of the discipline by researching and analyzing health issues and patterns of inequality in access to nutrition and healthcare, etc. in presentation and essay assignments.
  • ·       Students will demonstrate their ability to compare and contrast their own culture with others from the perspective of cultural relativism (multiculturalism) in classroom discussions.



Social Science Core
This course fulfills one course in the social science and one course in the multicultural general education requirements. The guidelines for social science core courses stress the development of the following characteristics of a responsible member of society:
•    an acquaintance with major empirical, analytical, or theoretical approaches to human behavior, institutions or culture;
•    an acquaintance with social, economic, political, or moral alternatives;
•    an acquaintance with major problems, issues, institutions, practices or trends in the social world;
•    a capacity to express ideas clearly, coherently and grammatically in written form as one component of the evaluation process. This written work must total at least 1500 words, at least half of which must be prepared outside of class.


Required Texts

Dettwyler (1994) Dancing Skeletons: Life and Death in West Africa. Waveland Press.


Hewlett and Hewlett (2008) Ebola, Culture, and Politics: The Anthropology of an Emerging Disease. Wadsworth.


Class Requirements

Exams: There will be 2 exams in this course, each worth 25% of the final grade. The exams will cover lectures, readings and films and will emphasize your conceptual grasp of the course material. A final essay worth 25 pts will be completed on the day of the final examination. All exams must be taken at the scheduled time. Due dates are outlined below.


Weekly Discussions: Students will be assigned to teams within which discussions of assigned readings will be conducted. Discussions will be conducted both in class and online. 10 weekly discussion forum posts (within mycourses) will be worth a total of 20% of the final grade (10 pts each week, totaling 100 pts). Posts will be responses to questions given by the instructor- students are required to contribute a minimum of 250 words to these posts AND at least one response to another student’s post to get full credit. Most weeks, the discussion questions will be posted on Friday and will be due by class time (11:30) the following Friday. The forums will be set to close at that time and will not accept late posts.


Presentation: Working in groups of 3, students are required to choose a research topic of their choice and present their findings in an in-class presentation. Presentations should be approximately 30 minutes in duration and should include visual aides, such as PowerPoint. An additional 5 minutes of question/answer will follow. The presentation should include a works cited slide, in-text citations, and any images used should also be referenced (you can include a small caption under each image with the author, year and page number). The presentation grade comprises 20% of the total course requirements. A minimum of 15 bibliographic sources (3 of which may be from the internet) must be used. Students are required to submit both a rough draft (October) and final (November) annotated bibliography. All students MUST contribute equally to the project; please let me know ASAP if you feel that your partners are not putting in equal time. A detailed description of the assignment will be posted.

Peer Reviews: The remaining components of the final grade include completing peer review sheets for fellow student presentations and the final essay (worth 5% of the final grade). Peer review sheets will be completed and submitted by the end of the day of the presentation (midnight) in order to get full credit and the final essay will be given during the final exam time slot.


Academic Honesty Policy

Plagiarism, cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Please refer to the Undergraduate Bulletin (pgs. 373-375) regarding SUNY Geneseo policies (available through the college webpage).


Course requirements and important dates:

Exam #1                                              125                              10/19              

         #2                                              125                              11/23              

Weekly Discussion                               100

Presentation                                        100                              TBA     

Peer Reviews                                        25                              12/4-12/17

Final Essay                                            25                              12/17  


* The second column represents the points each assignment is worth out of a total of 500 possible points for the course.


Weekly Schedule and Reading Assignments

Reading assignments are meant to reinforce and compliment the class lectures, images, and discussions and in no way replace them. Consequently, your regular attendance is essential for understanding class topics.  I will take attendance before class, for my own records, and will take attendance into consideration when determining border-line grades. Keeping current with the reading assignments will make it easier to study for exams and facilitate class discussions. * Additional readings are available on mycourses ** Students are responsible for any changes in the syllabus that are announced in class.


Week 1          8/31-9/4          Course Overview/ Intro to Medical Anthropology

Read: Fadiman; Dettwyler Ch. 1

Film: “The Split Horn: A Hmong Shaman in America”              

Week 2          9/7                   Labor Day- no class

9/11                 Biocultural Research Methods

Read: Bhattacharyya; Anderson; Dettwyler Ch. 2

In-class exercise

Discussion questions #1


Week 3          9/14-18           Evolution, Health and Medicine

Read: Eaton et al.; Oliwenstein; Dufour and Bender; Dettwyler Ch. 3

Discussion questions #2



Week 4          9/21-25           Diet and Nutrition                                                  

                                                Read: Crooks; Blum et al.; Brenton; Dettwyler Ch. 4

                                                Discussion questions #3


Week 5          9/28                 Food Security

Read: Himmelgreen et al.

10/2                 Reproductive Health

                                                Read: Dettwyler Ch. 5-7

Film: “All My Babies”

Discussion questions #4


Week 6          10/5                Research work day    

                        10/9                 Growth and Development

Read: Small; Scheper-Hughes; Dettwyler Ch. 8-10

Discussion questions #5


Week 7          10/12               Fall break- have fun!

                        10/16               Growth and Development, con’d

                                                Read: Dettwyler Ch. 11-13; 16


Week 8          10/19               Exam #1

                        10/23               Growth and Development, cont’d

Read: Leatherman and Goodman; Hewlett and Hewlett

Ch. 1-2

Questions #6


Week 9          10/26-30         Infectious Disease: Historic Pathogens and  


                        Read: Sharpe; McClain; Hewlett and Hewlett Ch. 3-4

Film: “The Plague Fighters”

                        Questions #7


Week 10        11/2-6             Infectious Disease: Globalization and Emerging  


Read: Mull; Farmer; Hewlett and Hewlett Ch. 5-6

                                                Questions #8


Week 11        11/9                 Health and Environment

                                                Read: Davis; Goodyear

                        11/13               Race, Ethnicity & Class

                                                Read: Harrison; Hewlett and Hewlett Ch. 7-8

                                                Questions #9




Week 12        11/16               Race, Ethnicity & Class, cont’d

Read: Gravlee and Sweet

                        11/20               Mass Disasters, War and Health

                                                Read: Prinzo and de Benoist; Hewlett and Hewlett Ch. 9     

                                                Questions #10


Week 13        11/23               Exam #2      

                        11/27               Happy Thanksgiving Break!                    


Week 14        11/30               Mass Disasters

                                                Guest lecture: TBA

                        12/4                 Student Presentations


Week 15        12/7-11           Student Presentations


Week 16        12/14               Student Presentations


                        12/17               Student Presentations and Final Essay, 8-11am