Health Equity and Disparities

This Course provides an overview of health disparities in the United States and an understanding of how cultural, geographical, historical, political and socioeconomic factors have influenced the development of health disparities among underserved and underrepresented populations. 

You will examine the root causes of health disparities, learn about health disparities research and study interventions designed to ameliorate health inequities among the underserved.

Students will share their diverse experiences and knowledge throughout the course as topics are addressed using lecture, discussion, films, guest speakers, and various experiential formats.



  • Recognize the impact race and ethnicity have had on health disparities in the U.S.

  • Develop the ability to recognize patterns of health disparities and how racial/ethnic trends are reflected in these patterns.

  • Understand the influence of regional history on the development of health disparities.

  • Understand the relationships between health disparities and the changing demographic characteristics of the Latino subpopulations within the United States.       

  • Learn the basic epidemiologic terms needed to decipher information associated with health disparities, including, but not exclusive to prevalence vs. incidence.

  • Understand the impact of cultural factors among diverse populations and their potential impact on health status and access issues.

  • Recognize the importance of, and essential factors associated with, culturally and linguistically relevant health interventions and programming.

  • Acquire the basic research skills necessary to seek out accurate and culturally relevant information regarding specific health disparities and how they impact diverse populations.

  • Understand the impact of health disparities on the changing US demographic.

  • Develop a strong appreciation for the richness and diversity of approaches needed to ameliorate health disparities.

  • Develop the skills to critically analyze health disparities research and programming.



  • Upon successful completion of the course, the student will be able to:Identify and describe the conceptualization of race and ethnicity as they relate to health disparities in the United States
  • Identify and describe demographic trends that affect race/ethnicity and health status in the United States;
  • Identify and describe the distribution of health inequities and their contributing factors across vulnerable population groups and disease outcomes;
  • Identify and describe the patterns of racial/ethnic differences in access and quality of healthcare;
  • Identify and describe the theories and hypotheses that seek to explain racial/ethnic differences in access to, and quality of, healthcare;
  • Identify and describe the hypotheses and theories that seek to explain health disparities among diverse populations across the lifespan;
  • Describe and defend at least 2 theories/models of causality of health inequalities;
  • Summarize, appraise and synthesize empirical research across disciplines related to health inequalities;
  • Describe and critique current medical care, social, environmental, or public health strategies to address health inequalities;
  • Define and defend innovative strategies that contribute substantively toward the elimination of health inequalities, and articulate a specific public health role within that strategy.