Vital Signs: Public Health and Social Policy

Fall 2014 quarter

Taught by

community studies, writing, analog game design, women's studies

This course centers on context for actions residents and policy makers can take to help their communities become healthier, and more flexible and creative in response to change. We will draw on ideas and techniques from the field of public health as we learn about resilience, policy process, and related public health efforts in Washington State and Thurston County. Course participants will also consider the effects of income and wealth inequity on a community’s health and resilience.

“Resilience” is often thought of as one person’s reaction to natural disaster or personal tragedy. But shared responses to social and environmental change are equally vital to both individual and collective well-being. Public health professionals focus efforts on fostering wellness in entire groups and populations of people, in addition to working with partners in medical care.

Written assignments in Vital Signs will include several short discussion papers to be shared with other participants. As the quarter progresses, this writing will build into an exploratory project on a topic of each student’s choice, based in course readings. Development and use of effective writing, reading and thinking skills will be a major course emphasis. Credit will be awarded in Public Health: Community Resilience or Public Health: Social Policy, depending on the focus of the final project.

This course may be taken alone. It is informally linked (with minimal overlap of content) to Community Resilience: An Introduction to Public Policy, another four-credit course also taught on Saturdays by the same faculty. Students enrolled in both courses may choose to complete separate final projects on different topics, or to combine their projects into a single exploratory paper on a topic related to policy and health, accompanied by a short presentation of their work in Community Resilience: An Introduction to Public Policy.




Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

Health-related fields including public health, community organizing, non-profit/associational sector, government, human services, sociology

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Weekend

Advertised schedule: Saturdays, 1:30 - 5 pm


Buy books for this program through Greener Bookstore.

Online Learning

Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online:

Registration Information

Credits: 4 (Fall)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior

Maximum enrollment: 25


Students may register for this course after their time ticket opens during regular registration.

Course Reference Number

(4 credits): 10275

Go to to register for this program.

Need Help Finding the Right Program?

Contact Academic Advising for help in answering your questions, planning your future and solving problems.