Graduate Minor in Health Equity

The Health Equity Minor is a graduate minor that allows students to specialize in studying health disparities and inequalities. A firm understanding of the structural factors that cause health inequalities will help prepare students to enter the professional world of public health as an effective advocate. The minor is 7 credits for Master’s students and 12 credits for PhD students.

History of the Minor

The Health Equity Minor (HEM) is celebrating its 10th anniversary! With input from students, faculty and staff, the minor has evolved from the Health Disparities Interdisciplinary Concentration for Master of Public Health students to the Health Equity Minor that is offered to all University of Minnesota graduate students. More information on the history for the HEM, click here.

Meet the founders of the Heath Equity Work group!

Download the program brochure (PDF)

Questions? Contact Dr. Kathleen Call at or Dr. Rhonda Jones-Webb at
For information on process and forms please contact Katy Korchik at
See Health Equity Minor student profiles

Declaring a Minor

The process to declare a minor is based on specific criteria.
View Declaration Process


Students interested in declaring the minor should print the Graduate Degree Plan (GDP), list the course requirements for the minor, and send to the Carol Francis at OR fax 612/624-4498, OR drop off at the Student Services Center, School of Public Health, A395 Mayo Memorial Building.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about the extent and nature of health inequities, and methods for documenting
  2. Analyze the roots of health inequities in our cultural histories and the process by which these gaps are generated and perpetuated
  3. Understand the roles of our system of government, healthcare, and public health in generating equity
  4. Explore potential practice and policy solutions for fostering health equity, examining both intended and unintended consequences
  5. Recognize the unique strengths and integral role of cultural communities and social groups in defining the health problems they experience and directing the solutions.

Required Classes

  • CSpH 5115 Cultural Knowledge, Health, and Contemporary Cultural Communities (3 cr)
  • OR PubH 6066 Building Communities, Increasing Health: Preparing for Community Health Work (2 cr)
  • OR PUBH 6055 Social Inequalities in Health (2 cr)
  • OR PUBH 6855 Medical Sociology
  • AND PubH6772 Capstone Seminar (1 cr)

How knowledge can become resource for individual, family, community health. Interactive glimpse of wisdom of cultural communities. Develop capacity to see culture within professional education/practice. Cultural constructs underpinning medical system, role of culture in  interaction between practitioner/patient, role of  reconnection to cultural heritage in healing.

Preparing for Community Health Work: Taught with Powderhorn-Phillips Cultural Wellness Center. Introduction to community building/organizing. Using culture as a resource for health, reducing barriers, identifying community assets, planning organizing strategy, understanding the impact of history. Emphasizes self-reflection and skill-building for authentic, grassroots community work.

Extent/causes of social inequalities in health. Degree to which understanding of these inequalities is hampered by methodological limitations in health research. Focuses on individual, community, and policy approaches to reducing social inequalities in health.

Introduction to common theoretical/empirical approaches used by sociologists to study health/illness. How content reflects social inequalities in health/illness. Social processes that shape experience of health/illness.

Readings and discussion-based seminar. Readings emphasize practice and policy solutions to health disparities.

Elective Course Options

Not all courses are offered regularly, and some courses are offered through the Public Health Institute.

If there is an elective course not listed, please email Kathleen Call ( or Rhonda Jones-Webb ( for approval with the syllabus and reasoning as to why it should be approved.

Public Health

The course will apply a social epidemiologic, interdisciplinary perspective to understand urban health, including the demography of urban populations (by key social strata), issues with which urban areas struggle (including concentration of poverty, residential segregation, educational inequality, unemployment), the health patterns of urban populations, theories guiding urban health and social epidemiology scholarship, and social and economic policies across different sectors with evidence to reduce health disparities and improve health in urban areas (a so- called “health in all policies” approach).

This course examines the causes of social inequalities in health and what can be done to reduce them in the U.S. We specifically examine individual, community, organizational, and policy level approaches to reducing health disparities.

The purpose of the course is to prepare you to make a contribution to the health of your own communities, as well as other communities, using asset-oriented, collaborative approaches. The course has three overarching themes that will help to prepare you for community work: cultural self-study, community building, and working across culture.

The course will address:
• Global health in context: historical and cultural influences, contemporary issues, working across
• Organizational skills: project development, management, systems thinking
• Professional skills: collaborative leadership, networking, communication strategies
• Intervention skills: monitoring and evaluation, qualitative research, and community engagement

Social epidemiology is the branch of epidemiology that considers how social interactions and purposive human activity affect health. In other words, social epidemiology is about how a society’s innumerable social interactions, past and present, yield differential exposures and thus differences in health outcomes between persons who make up populations.

Population health is the field of practice and research concerned with the health of groups of individuals and the equitable distribution of health within these groups. Populations may be defined by geographic area, by social and economic characteristics such as gender, socio-economic status, and race/ethnicity, by disease states such as persons with mental illness or diabetes, or by enrollment in a health care plan or utilization of a specific health care organization. Population health takes an upstream approach, focusing on the social determinants of health and fundamental issues of health equity. While improving population health requires the involvement of multiple sectors such as public health agencies, health departments, education, housing, faith-based organizations and criminal justice, here we focus on how population heath can be addressed from within the health system through partnerships with other sectors. Using case studies, we will explore how population health innovations are applied by health systems.

The purpose of this overview course is to examine women’s health conditions, programs, services, and policies in developed and developing countries. Global health issues will be presented in the context of a woman’s life, from childhood, through adolescence, reproductive years, and aging. The course content will emphasize social, economic, environmental, behavioral, and political factors that affect health behaviors, reproductive health, chronic and acute diseases, premature mortality and longevity.

This course will provide a survey of the major causes of child morbidity and mortality in the United States and around the world, and current strategies for intervention. The course has two major conceptual foci. First, while child mortality has declined greatly over the past 50 years, profound social and economic inequalities in child health remain; this course will examine their social determinants (including poverty, place of residence, and others). A second emphasis in the course is on a developmental and life course perspective, highlighting that numerous environmental exposures (nutrition, pollutants, stress, parenting styles) have particularly large and lasting effects when those exposures occur at critical periods of development.

This two-credit course focuses on the major public health issues of adolescents and the programs and policies that impact the health and well-being of this population. Course readings and discussion focus primarily on adolescents in the United States, although international contexts are also considered. The course is designed to examine the prevalence and etiology of health and wellness indicators for youth. It is intended for graduate students in the health sciences and other health-related areas.

The purpose of this course is to provide students with an overview of current issues affecting children’s rights and health. The course will focus on how public policies influence these issues at the federal, state and local levels. Students will develop practical skills to understand, analyze, communicate, and advocate for children’s policy issues.

The purpose of this course is to examine topics in women’s health in the United States; the programs, services, and policies that affect women’s health; and methodological issues in research about women’s health. The course content will emphasize the social, economic, environmental, behavioral, and political factors associated with women’s health. The epidemiology, measurement and interpretation of these factors, and how these factors can be translated into interventions, programs, and policy, will be of major interest.

This is a skills focused course that introduces students to the six steps of a Health Impact Assessment (HIA), along with relevant data sources and methods. With each step, students will be given the opportunity to practice and apply key concepts. Throughout the semester, students will work in interdisciplinary teams to develop a plan for an HIA, culminating in a group presentation. Students will also critique an HIA of their choice to see how HIAs have been used in the real world. This course will also cover emerging topics and challenges in the HIA field, including data gaps, funding, intersections with government decision making processes, and public engagement in HIAs.

*Note: co-listed as PA 5290

Global Health in a Local Context: An experiential course on the social determinants, health equity, and leading change in Minnesota immerses students in the study of health equity, the social determinants of health, the principles and practice of global health in a local setting, and community-based healthcare. The discipline of social medicine provides a theoretical and practical framework to explore these topics. This course draws on the social sciences and social epidemiology to forge understandings of the social determinants of health; integrates the voice and decision-making power of individuals, families, and communities; is multidisciplinary and multi-sectoral in its responses; ensures an equity agenda; and is guided by deep, multi-faceted encounters with local contexts.

Social-psychological processes that shape experience of mental health/illness. Consequences of disorders for individuals, families, and communities. Epidemiology research, theories of mental health/illness. Effect of policies related to organizing/financing services.

This is an introductory course about Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) intends for graduate students and community practitioners interested in adding CBPR to their repertoire of effective approaches to understanding and addressing social and health disparities. We will explore topics such as the purpose and applications of CBPR; partnership formation and maintenance; issues of power, trust, race, class, and social justice; conflict resolution; ethical issues; CBPR’s relationship to cultural knowledge systems.

This course provides an introduction to the common theoretical and empirical approaches used by sociologists to study health and illness. The content reflects two broad themes pursued by medical sociologists: 1) social inequalities in health and illness, and 2) the social processes that shape the experience of health and illness.

New approaches and frameworks that integrate research, clinical practice, policy, and community resources are needed to address weight-related behaviors across the lifespan. Integration is one such method that can potentially increase the success and sustainability of approaches to reduce health disparities. Integration across research, clinical practice, community, and policy domains has high potential for resulting in creating a culture of health and health equity. This course will introduce students to integration science and practice, teach about the importance of integration across research, clinical practice, community, and policy domains to address health disparities, teach skills for communicating with these entities to intentionally and successfully facilitate integration practice, and have students create their own integrated projects addressing a health disparity.

Design/delivery of culturally responsive health communication. Social/cultural contexts and belief systems that shape health behavior. Cultural learning styles. Overcoming cultural barriers. Cultural motivators.

Public health problems associated with armed conflict; interdisciplinary perspective with emphasis on analyzing the complexities. Consequences of mass displacement, effects on community and family, women’s roles and experiences, trauma and healing. Health intervention strategies. Seminar discussion format.

This course will examine relevant historical issues, theories, and empirical
data, emphasizing critical analysis and application of knowledge about
structural racism and health inequities. Students will gain a better
understanding of the literature and research related to racism and health
inequities and develop a critical lens to explore public health and policy
interventions geared at their elimination.

This course will use an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the complex intersection between parental incarceration and child welfare, focusing on the ways these systems intersect and the impacts on children and families. This class will include opportunities to learn from local and national experts from practice and policy settings. Topics will include parent-child contact during incarceration, intersections between incarceration and child welfare, and systemic disparities by race and class.

Complementary Alternative Medicine

This course offers students direct experience, guidance and theory in engaging unfamiliar culture and navigating cultural difference within a community context. The goal is to cultivate capacity for sensitive and effective cross-cultural engagement. This includes cultivating your own cultural awareness, sensitivity, fair-mindedness and open-mindedness through cultural self-study that is essential for effective intercultural interaction.

The goal of this class is to gain greater awareness of the power of culture in your life. You will develop your capacity to “see” culture being expressed within your life, education and in expectations for professional development and practice. All human knowledge is grounded in culture and constructed through culture, even if seldom presented as such. As we gain proficiency in seeing culture we gain insight into what is often taken for granted and becomes invisible within a dominant cultural perspective. We will explore ways to use these insights to bring the best of cultural resources to contemporary challenges and global problems without doing harm. Our goal is that you will leave the course with tools, disposition and the capacity to create a healthier cultural identity for yourself and to build healthier cross-cultural relationships in your life and work.

Public Affairs

PA 5211 provides an introduction to the theory, practice, and innovation of land use policy in American cities and beyond. Land use regulations are an essential facet of rural, suburban and urban life across municipalities, unincorporated areas and natural preserves in the United States. As residents of these communities we encounter the consequences of land use regulation on a daily basis. The rules and conventions of land use define where we live, how we move, and why places develop in particular ways according to pre-­‐established legal mandates and the imperative of the public interest. Indeed, our future as healthy, just and sustainable communities is contingent upon innovations in land use that will shape the environments of the places we call home.

Nature/extent of poverty/inequality in the United States, causes/consequences, impact of government programs/policies. Extent/causes of poverty/inequality in other developed/developing countries.

Historical roots of racial inequality in American society. Contemporary economic consequences. Public policy responses to racial inequality. Emphasizes thinking/analysis that is critical of strategies offered for reducing racism and racial economic inequality.

How to access demographic, health, and background information on US immigrants. Characteristics and health needs of immigrants. Designing culturally competent health programs. How to advocate for needed policy changes to promote immigrant health and wellbeing. Community visits required.

How to employ an analytical framework to analyze a current immigration policy proposal. Topics vary (e.g., president’s guest worker proposal, democratic alternative proposals).

Policymaking/politics of planning in housing, community development, social policy. Connecting policy to local/regional politics. Role of institutional decision-making structures on policy outcomes. Importance of citizens, social movements, interest groups in policymaking proces

Women are disproportionately underrepresented in leadership roles in spite of high rates of educational attainment and equal opportunity legislation. GAINS will prepare students with the skills to lead effectively and challenge institutional norms that perpetuate gender and other forms of bias. Topics over the course of two semesters will include: Developing Your Authentic Leadership Style; Confronting Implicit Bias; Networking and Professional Advancement; Achieving Work-life Balance; and Negotiation.


Focus on population- based public health and mental health nursing practice across the lifespan, with local to global perspectives.  Emphasis on health equity, health promotion and levels of disease prevention.  Apply theory and research to examine interventions and outcomes.

Political Science

Social Work

Links content from human services management and from community organization and advocacy. Integrating framework that draws upon knowledge/skills used in agency/organizational management and in community organization/change.


Form and content of hierarchical arrangements. Relationship of hierarchy to  social order and individual behavior. Structures of social stratification. Status attainment. Mobility. Inequality and economic development, social development, and technological change. Economic status in relation to social status, including race, gender.

Major theoretical debates. Classic and contemporary theoretical approaches to studying U.S. race relations; contemporary and historical experiences of specific racial and ethnic groups.

Definition/importance of culture as dimension of social life. Structural/Durkheimian approaches, cultural Marxism, practice theory. Cultural creation/reception. Identities as cultural formations. Culture/social inequality. Culture and race. Cultural construction of social problems. Culture and globalization.

Global Challenge

Complex global health problems can often only be addressed through approaches that go beyond traditional health science disciplines. Whether responding to emerging pandemics, food insecurity, maternal mortality, or civil society collapse during conflict, solutions often lie at the interface of animal, environmental, and human health. In this course, students will examine the fundamental challenges to addressing complex global health problems in the world’s poorest countries. Together, we will seek practical solutions at the nexus of human, animal, and ecological health. While there isn’t a single “right” solution to grand challenges, progress can be made through an interdisciplinary perspective with emphasis on ethical and cultural sensitivity, and on understanding their complexities. This exploration will help students propose realistic actions that could be taken to resolve these issues. This course will help students gain the understanding and skills necessary for beginning to develop solutions to this grand challenge.

Congratulations to our 2018 Health Equity Minor Graduates!

Top Row (left to right): Rhonda Jones-Webb, Kathleen Call

Bottom Row: Miko Gamban, Sabrina Roowala, Jia Mikuls, Sarah Boneske, Kari Carlson

Click here for the history of the Health Equity Minor.

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