I’ve been tweeting about revising my Sociology of Health and Illness graduate seminar class and some folks asked me to share. The draft syllabus is included here: Sociology of Health and Illness_Grad Syllabus 2020_Pirtle
I only taught this class once before, and pulled heavily from the sociology of stress course I took as a student, and other med soc syllabi I found on the web. I didn’t love the class and wanted to change things up.
The first major change is influenced by Cite Black Women movement. Created by Dr. Christen A. Smith, #CiteBlackWomen is “a campaign to push people to engage in a radical praxis of citation that acknowledges and honors Black women’s transnational intellectual production”. The second tenet in the critical praxis is to #2 – Integrate Black women into the CORE of your syllabus (in life & in the classroom). One of the best transformations in health studies over the last few decades, I believe, is an understanding of social conditions as fundamental to health outcomes. For instance, acknowledging that it is racism, not race, that shapes health disparities by race. Many black women scholars have lead the way in this regard. Incorporating more black women authors in my syllabus strengthened this critical and intersectional perspective. There is so much brilliance out there I was sad to not be able to fit more in. Per my count, there are 20 black women authors on the syllabus.
Next, per feedback from former students I added a few more texts (v. nearly all articles).
Finally, I changed the assignments. I added weekly memos, a short writing assignment, and built in flexibility into the final project. The pedagogy here is to make all of us accountable in what we bring to class discussions, and to lessen the weight of one final project that may or may not be relevant to students in shaping the course grade. The short writing is open to student input, but my suggestions are either an OpEd or a book review that might be able to be published in a timely fashion. Likewise, the final assignment will allow students to choose what option is most useful for them (i.e., if they are taking an exam in the area they might use the final to do a practice exam).