Course Overview - Health and Society

The academic year consists of 6 periods. Period 1, 2, 5 and 6 comprise six weeks of classes, one week of self-study and the exam week. In these periods students often follow two courses worth 6 credits each. Period 3 and 4 entail of four weeks in which both the lectures and the exams take place. In these periods students follow one course worth 6 credits. The expected workload is 40 hours per week. Your individual study programme depends on your educational background and research interests.

Visit the Study Handbook website for more detailed information on the courses offered by the Health and Society Group.

Academic Year 2021-2022

Course Overview

Period 1: September-October

HSO-10806 Introduction to Health and Society

Annemarie Wagemakers (HSO) & Caro-Lynn Verbaan (HSO)

In this introductory course relevant principles of health and society will be addressed. The course starts with historical developments in thinking about disease, health and health promotion. Next, we elaborate on causes and consequences of demographic, social, and economic health differences, using an interdisciplinary perspective (psychology, sociology, epidemiology). Specific attention is paid to the interaction between societal developments and health and ethical considerations. We also discuss global health, infectious diseases and environmental health. Furthermore we address health systems in the Netherlands, including health policies regarding care, cure and prevention, and the organisation of formal and informal health care.

CPT-38006 Science Communication 2.0: Dialogue and Transdisciplinairity

Katherine Legun, Auke Pols, Christina Gillies, Marthe Derkzen (HSO) & Marleen Bekker (HSO)

Current societal challenges include issues such as environmental degradation, climate change, health inequalities and ageing societies. These challenges are inherently complex and many different scientific and professional disciplines are trying to understand and solve them from their own perspective. These different perspectives can lead to heated debates between scientists, policy makers, companies and citizens about “the right way” to solve things. While still considered authoritative domains, science and technology have also become contested areas. Online communities argue against vaccination, nutritional advice is openly disputed, science blogs fight over climate change, and cases of scientific fraud dominate the news. These trends have implications for Science Communication in support of different fields in practice such as health promotion, developing new technologies, or promoting sustainable practices and behaviors, and a need to move beyond a paradigm in which Science sends messages to Society, but rather enters in a dialogue with it.

HSO-31806 Advances in Health and Society

Kirsten Verkooijen (HSO), Marleen Bekker (HSO) Yvette Buist (HSO), Emely de Vet (COM), Jorinde Spook (COM), Hester Moerbeek (SCH) & Bettina Bock (RSO)

The theory that more equal societies are healthier has been confirmed in many different contexts. This applies as well to the idea that inequality has powerful psychosocial effects. In previous times, the scientific debate was focused merely on income inequality as an independent determinant of health. Nowadays, the debate is centralized around the question how income inequalities interact with many known and unknown causal processes related to the social gradient.

In this course, we will review these processes and study the aetiological pathways used in science to explore the emerging health gaps. Case-studies on e-health and genetics are presented to unfold the theories, concepts and methods of each pathways and to critically reflect whether and how pathways are intertwined. To support students in the analysis and reflection on the pathways, hands-on experts whose job is to reduce health inequalities in practice, will present their approaches. The assignments support students in developing an understanding of the pathways and analyse and reflect upon the role of pathways in understanding and enacting upon health inequalities.

This course contributes to the understanding and application of the principle of health inequalities and its concepts, theories and methodologies in science and practice. The social scientific viewpoints of sociology, communication and psychology are reviewed stand alone as well as in counter play with life-sciences approaches (e.g. genetics, nutrition, e-technology), especially those relevant in health care disciplines (general practice, community health care). Innovative approaches, including the Salutogenic Model of Health and Intersectionality, are reviewed for their role in understanding and acting upon the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations.

Period 2: October-December

HSO-20306 Environmental Assets for Health

Marleen Bekker (HSO), Lenneke Vaandrager (HSO) & Caro-Lynn Verbaan (HSO)

This course starts from the basic principles of Health Promotion and elaborates on different perspectives that underlie research in health and society. The perspectives addressed include Health Promotion Principles, Salutogenesis, Ecological Health approach and Life Course perspective. The perspective that you take as a starting point affects the issues you identify, the way you set up research and the solutions that you find.
In this course we will look at environmental determinants of health at different levels of the built environment. We will discuss home-, neighbourhood-, city- and regional environments and the role they play regarding people' s health. Students will conduct their own local-level research to assess how social and physical determinants affect health in a neighbourhood environment. The central questions in this course are: what environmental determinants for health are present at different environmental levels, how do these determinants influence health, and what are possibilities from the perspective of a health promotor to take health into account when designing an environment.

LUP-36306 Foodscapes, Urban Lifestyles and Transition

Arnold van der Valk, Esther Veen, Laura Bouwman (HSO), Gerrit-Jan Carsjens & guest speakers

Today, landscape architects and planners are confronted with new challenges. One of these challenges is the shaping of foodscapes. Foodscapes are places and spaces where food is produced, processed, acquired, distributed, consumed and the waste processed. The notion of foodscape is increasingly being used within landscape design, spatial planning, health promotion and food studies as a tool to describe our food environments and to assess the potential impact on food choice and food behaviour. Foodscape is a concept of growing importance on the path towards more sustainable and healthy lifestyles.

Food is a socio-technical system and as such is shaped by everyday practices that are performed in specific places. The food system is enacted by the repetitive performances of everyday food practices. Transitioning the food system involves changing the practices that constitute and reproduce them. Cities in this perspective are tightly bundled agglomerations of everyday practices, and are the stages on which healthier and more sustainable practices are created, performed and repeated, until they become everyday activities. Cities are therefore uniquely positioned to change food practices, and by doing so transition socio-technical regimes like food and sustainable environmental management. Municipal policies, programs, and infrastructure influence practices, while activists, political leaders and media teachers shape our understanding of practices. By strategically influencing food practices, cities can potentially advance public health, improve the environment and economy, and ultimately transform the food system.

Lifestyles represent practices comprised of interests, opinions, behaviours, and behavioural orientations of an individual, group, or culture. Hence, lifestyles reflect values and world views, including views on politics, religion, health, music, sexuality and food. Cities are hotbeds of lifestyle change. Food habits and convictions can be construed as part of a lifestyle such as conventional, locavore or ecological. Various lifestyles are associated with disparate foodscapes.

Contemporary food practices and the consequent shaping of food places and spaces can be framed as social practices contributing to or deriving from the path to sustainability. Food and its manifold spatial manifestations is key to understanding emerging alternative niches which may eventually have a positive impact on unsustainable spatial structures and institutions. Research by design and the exploration of alternative spatial arrangements among others may provide tools for opening up views on sustainable foodscapes and healthy lifestyles.

Period 3: January

HSO-20806 Health Psychology

Kirsten Verkooijen (HSO), Franshelis Garcia (HSO) & Kristel Polhuis (HSO)

Students will get acquainted with theories and research methods common in the field of health psychology. Topics that are addressed centre around three themes:

1) predicting and changing health behaviour;
2) coping with stress and illness;
3) mental health.

During the course, students work in small groups on a research assignment including quantitative data collection, statistical analysis with SPSS, and scientific writing.

Period 4: February-March

HSO-30306 Health Policy and Action Annemarie Wagemakers (HSO)

The field of health is dynamic and complex. Health is influenced by a diversity of interconnected factors, and different sectors and actors are involved. As a consequence, the development of public health policy is essential and organisations and professionals have to collaborate in the provision of care, prevention and health promotion.
In this course we review the influence of global, national and local health policies on the organisation of public health systems. For instance, policies of the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union (EU) influence the organization of health systems on the national level. Likewise, national health policies determine local health policy and thereby local health systems. Decision-making during the development of health policies, depends on the actors involved and on the context in which the policy-making takes place. We take a closer look at health policy on the global, national and local level and discuss theories, decision-making models and tools in the field of health policy development and in network societies. We also unravel the policy-making process and address priority setting in health.
The functioning of organisations and actors within the health field is strongly related to health policies. Public health and society professionals have an important role in promoting and protecting health. They collaborate with policy-makers, with professionals within the health care sector, professionals of other sectors and communities. We discuss theories and methods to set policy on the agenda, and to develop, implement and evaluate policy. We also study policy implementation from the perspective of specific stakeholders such as general practitioners, health promotion professionals and the public.
In this course, students acquire more in-depth knowledge and competencies in the field of health and health promotion and are trained in program level learning outcomes of the Bachelor Health and Society. Program level learning outcomes addressed are: applying theoretical approaches, explain health policy making in the field of public health, choose and apply research methods, explain ethical issues that may arise when working in the field of public health, collaborate in a (multidisciplinary) team, communicate clearly (verbally and writing) and reflect upon personal knowledge, skills, attitudes and functioning. As such, the course helps students to prepare themselves for their professional life, for example as a researcher, health promoter, health policy advisor or manager.

CPT-56006 Introduction to Global One Health

Marcel Verweij (CPT) & Caro-Lynn Verbaan (HSO)

The core idea of Global One Health is that health of people, animals, plants and their environments are closely connected, and that the causes for environmental problems and human/animal ill-health easily cross borders. Clear examples are the spread of avian influenza or Ebola, the emergence of antibiotic resistance, the global causes of malnutrition, and health problems linked to water pollution. The insights of how different problems has implications for the study of health problems and for policies to prevent disease and environmental degradation.

In this introductory course students explore central approaches, concepts, and practical dilemmas in Global One Health. The aim is not just to understand and learn to use basic tools and concepts in epidemiology and veterinary and public health interventions, but to critically reflect on them as well. This involves understanding and questioning the aims of health policies, comparing different concepts of health, getting familiar with epidemiological studies and approaches, and analyzing and discussing ethical dilemmas in Global One Health practice. Is it ethically justified to cull many animals to prevent possible human infections, e.g. in the case of avian influenza? How to understand responsibility for emerging antibiotic resistance, or for malnutrition? Is ecosystem health just a metaphor or a sensible concept?

HSO-32303 Data Types for Health Promotion

Spencer Moore (HSO)

Data science is an interdisciplinary field of science, encompassing a wide range of scientific methods for data collection and analysis, including (statistical) techniques and software packages. Because of the broad orientation of the data science concept, many different data types are available for exploratory or confirmatory analyses. In the interspecialization ‘Data Science for Health Promotion’, students learn to perform data science on data types that are particularly relevant for gaining insight into specific health issues that affect quality of life within various populations.

This course focuses on two data types: network data and text data. The aim is to provide an in-depth understanding in terms of the conceptual nature of the research questions that can be addressed with those data types; how these data can be collected and prepared; and the analyses that can be performed on these types of data. Overall, students learn about the potential meaning and value of these data types for health promotion and population health research. Network data is relational and captures the connections existing among actors in a population or social space. Various sampling designs may be used to collect network data. This course will cover three main designs: egocentric, chain, and sociometric. The analysis of network data focuses on describing the composition and structure of social networks and examining if and how network characteristics may relate to individual-, group-, or network-level outcomes.

Text data refers to large sets of free flowing text, that can be collected from, e.g., social media or other online sources. Analysing text data can provide insights into target groups’ specific health topics of interest (document summarization); perceptions and affective states (sentiment analysis); or beliefs about causal or temporal relations (discourse analysis). Besides discussing the different sources and types of text data, specific attention is paid to overall process of working with text in data science. This process involves collecting text data; text mining to structure the input text; and various methods and procedures for text analysis and interpretation.

Period 5: March-April

HSO-10306 Global Health

Caro-Lynn Verbaan (HSO) & Meghann Ormond (GEO), Marthe Derkzen (HSO) & Laura Bouwman (HSO)

This introductory course uses a health promotion perspective to critically examine global health concerns, underlying causes and potential actions to address these concerns. The scientific domain of health promotion values health as a human right and a major source for social, economic and personal development and focuses on achieving equity in health. Global health concerns those problems and challenges that cross national borders and require national and international interdisciplinary action for priority setting and intervention.
Emerging concerns range from infectious disease e.g. malaria, to women- and child health, 'second epidemic' problems such as smoking and food-related issues. The course provides a critical view upon health measurement and health priority setting, the determinants underlying global health concerns and the ways these issues are addressed by the health system and through interdisciplinary, international collaborations.

HSO-30806 Settings for Health Promotion

Lenneke Vaandrager (HSO) & Laurens Klerkx (KTI)

Much of what makes people healthy or sick - income, social position, where people live, level of literacy, culture, political system - lies outside the scope of health (promotion) sector. Health promotion practices require a shift in emphasis from disease prevention focused messages about risk, to a more ecological and salutogenic approach taking into account social, environmental, and cultural contexts in which people live, work, recreate and play (cities, families, schools, workplaces, recreation and communities). A setting is defined as a place or social context in which people engage in daily activities, in which environmental, organisational and personal factors interact with health and well-being. Settings offer both an opportunity to promote health and well-being, and may also constrain it. In this course we focus on analysing settings, which may include the family/household, educational settings, workplaces, recreation, prisons, hospitals and communities. By means of an in-depth and real-life case study, students will explore a certain health promotion issue from a settings perspective, to get concrete experience with the settings approach.

HSO-31306 Systematic Reviews in Health and Society

Kirsten Verkooijen (HSO) & Christina Gillies (COM)

Questions related to health and society are often complex questions. Studying the available literature can help to answer these complex questions. A literature review is a critical and in-depth evaluation of previous research, and is an essential part of almost any scientific process. This course will teach students knowledge and skills necessary to conduct a systematic literature review. Among other things, students will learn how to select a topic and theoretical perspective, to formulate relevant research questions, and to conduct a systematic literature search. Students are further taught how to critique the literature and how to develop their argument. Finally, student will learn to critically appraise each-others work and formulate constructive feedback.

HSO-32806 Theory-Driven Data Science for Population Health

Spencer Moore (HSO)

Theory-driven analyses are those analyses that are based on an explicit theoretical model and includes a systematic process of theory building, testing, and improvement. This course guides students through the process of integrating social, communication, and behavioral change theory with data analysis to address meaningful questions and hypotheses for health promotion and population health research . Students will be taught to translate conceptual models into testable hypotheses, test those hypotheses using the appropriate quantitative or qualitative methods, and present those results intelligibly to the scientific community.

Period 6: May-July

BEC-57306 Decision making in Global One Health

Bart van den Borne (BEC/QVE) & Henk Broekhuizen (HSO)

This course focuses on socio-economic aspects of the decision-making process in the field of Global One Health. The overall aim of the course is to appraise the wider impact of decisions in the Global One Health domain and to apply a systems approach to Global One Health issues. Attention is paid on 1) economic concepts and methods to quantitatively inform Global One Health decisionmakers and 2) examining potentially conflicting criteria of the decision making progress of Global One Health issues. The entire field of Global One Health (human, animal and environmental health) will be considered and the effect of prevention and mitigation strategies will be clarified. Next to the lectures, practicals will be organized where the knowledge obtained from the lectures will be applied to specific decision-making problems in the field of Global One Health. Students will work in groups to apply a systems approach to Global One Health issues and will write a report to reflect on their own personal role as Global One Health specialist.