Culture, Health, and Science

Rebeccah Lijek, Assistant Professor, Biological Sciences

Overview and Contact Information

The Five College Program in Culture, Health, and Science (CHS) is a certificate program that allows undergraduate liberal arts students to explore human health, disease, and healing from interdisciplinary perspectives. Graduate schools recognize that tomorrow's health experts will need interdisciplinary training to link their understandings of history, culture, and behavior with clinical, biological, and epidemiologic models of health and disease. Students design a plan of study that approaches health holistically from the perspective of natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Completing a CHS certificate builds on the liberal arts approach to equip students with tools to think critically about health issues. For example, students may learn to:

  • Recognize historical patterns of disease distribution, treatment, and health disparities
  • Appreciate the value of integrating literature, philosophy, and the arts with studies in STEM fields (and vice versa)
  • Develop technical skills (such as research design, media literacy, gene editing, foreign languages, econometrics, doula training, or statistical analysis) to apply to health issues
  • Navigate healthcare systems and be an advocate for themselves and others 
  • Apply contributions of multiple disciplines to the realm of public health, health promotion, cultural competence, disease eradication and global health

Students learn how behavior influences disease distribution, how biomedical categories change across time and culture, and how political and socioeconomic factors affect disease and treatment. CHS students learn to interpret and communicate their results to diverse audiences.

CHS is led by a steering committee of faculty members from all five colleges and a range of disciplines. CHS students work with their campus advisors to articulate objectives, select courses, and conduct independent projects or internships. Faculty and students alike are enriched by the cross-campus connections and interdisciplinary collaborations that the Culture, Health, and Science program fosters — locally and globally.

For a complete list of CHS campus advisors, CHS-approved courses, internship opportunities, and upcoming events, see the certificate website.

Requirements for the Certificate

A minimum of seven courses and an independent research project:

Seven CHS-approved courses, with at least one course from each of the five categories of inquiry:
1. Biocultural Approaches: Interdisciplinary and/or comparative approaches that explore the interdependent influences on human health and disease
2. Mechanisms of Disease Transmission: Mechanisms of disease transmission within individuals and populations
3. Population, Health, and Disease: Exploring the relationships among social, behavioral, economic, and other aggregate population forces on human health and disease
4. Engaged and Humanistic Approaches: Ethical, humanistic, artistic, and engaged approaches to human health and disease, including explorations of healthcare practice, policy, and activism.
5. Research Design and Analysis: Concepts of evidence, data collection, research ethics, measurement, and modes of analysis
An approved independent research project, such as an internship, thesis, course project, independent study, or other activity acceptable to the student's campus CHS certificate advisor
Total Courses7

Additional Specifications

  • No course can be used to satisfy more than one category. 
  • No more than three courses can “double count” toward a student’s major.
  • Four semesters—or the equivalent—of a second language is also recommended but not required. Such language training may be required for students seeking internships and summer research positions.
  • A list of CHS-approved courses is available from the certificate's website.