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Program Overview

Health, Science and Society

Health, Science and Society

This certificate program is designed for students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, public health, healthcare policy, or as healthcare providers and those who are interested in the impact of science on society. Premedical and prehealth students needing additional humanities and social science coursework may find this certificate beneficial, particularly as medical and professional health schools place an increasing importance on cultural competency.



About Health, Science and Society

Health, Science and Society Required Courses

Students must complete a minimum of four courses selected from courses covering topics related to health, medicine and society. For the 2018-19 academic year, the following courses will be offered:

  • BIOL SCI 312 The Evolutionary Biology of Human Anatomy, Health, and Disease
  • CLASSICS 110 Scientific Vocabulary through Classical Roots
  • PHIL 269-DL Bioethics
  • PSYCH 204 Social Psychology
  • PSYCH 212 Introduction to Neuroscience
  • PSYCH 218 Developmental Psychology
  • PSYCH 303 Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 342 Evolutionary Psychology

Students may count other courses in the social sciences and humanities toward the certificate, with the approval of their academic adviser. Students may substitute one 300-level biology course toward the four-class minimum for the certificate.

View Health, Science and Society Courses

Health, Science and Society Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, please visit the Tuition page.

Admission for Health, Science and Society

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found on the Admission page.

Health, Science and Society Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found on the Registration Information page.

Find out more about the Health, Science and Society Certificate Program

Program Courses:Course Detail
Human Origins <> ANTHRO 213-CN

This course will examine the evolution of the human species and explore the nature of human biological variation in the modern world. Principles of evolutionary theory and genetics will first be presented to provide a framework for the study of human evolutionary biology. The fossil evidence for human evolution will then be considered using comparative data from nonhuman primate ecology to help reconstruct prehistoric lifeways. Finally, the influence of environmental stressors (e.g, climate, nutrition, and disease) on modern human biological variation will be discussed. Particular attention will be given to how human populations utilized biological and behavioral mechanisms to adapt to their environments throughout evolutionary history. Carries science credit.

There is no available section.
The Evolutionary Biology of Human Anatomy <> BIOL_SCI 312-CN

This course utilizes an evolutionary perspective to understand key features of human anatomy, health, and disease. Coverage will include review of some basic evolutionary processes, a brief overview of human evolutionary history, followed by a consideration of the primary body systems and regions in the human organism. Our focus will be on the historical context of selected human structures and their function/dysfunction across these systems. Some specific topics covered include: human developmental genetics, environmental plasticity, and epigenetics in relation to health and disease; theories of “mismatch” between modern lifestyles and our evolved features (related to metabolism; allergy, the microbiome, cancer, etc.); evolutionary compromises and plasticity in musculoskeletal structures; complex structures and birth defects (pharyngeal arches, etc.); population growth and zoonoses; and human life history and aging in evolutionary perspective. This course is suitable for students interested in human evolutionary biology and health, and in planning careers in the health sciences.

Students who have previously taken BIOL SCI 202 should not register for this course.

View BIOL_SCI 312-CN Sections
Scientific Vocabulary Classical <> CLASSICS 110-CN

The intent of this course is to familiarize students with a wide range of Greek- and Latin-derived words encountered in scientific and primarily medical fields. Students learn the basic components and an understanding of the underlying principles of word formation, which includes acquiring a basic vocabulary of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes, much of which is a matter of applied memorization. It also includes analysis of words, aiming at an understanding of the relationship of their various components. Students will be able to develop, practice, reinforce and test these skills through a variety of in-class exercises, as well as regular tests (weekly quizzes, a midterm and a cumulative final exam). Once equipped with the knowledge of how all such words function, the meaning of thousands of scientific words encountered in context may be inferred with reasonable assurance of accuracy. 

Another aim of the course is to acquaint students with the ancient Greek and Roman roots of scientific (specifically medical) inquiry. We will explore the ancients’ philosophical ideas and understanding of the workings of the human body and mind and their views on health, healing, and disease patterns and patient care. We will also examine developments in science broadly speaking, and discoveries and advancements in ancient anatomy, physiology, surgery and pharmacology with ramifications for modern science in general, and medicine in particular.

No prior knowledge of Greek and Latin is required for this course.

There is no available section.
Bioethics <> PHIL 269-DL

This course will consist of an analysis of the ethical issues that arise as a result of the developments in medicine and biotechnology. Topics considered will include the physician/patient relationship, the researcher/human subject relationship, issues at the beginning and end of life, children’s issues, the right to health care, and the allocation of scarce medical resources. The course is conducted completely online. A technology fee will be added to tuition.

Note: This course is limited to School of Professional Studies students only. Undergraduate students in other schools at Northwestern are not permitted to enroll in this course.

View PHIL 269-DL Sections
Social Psychology <> PSYCH 204-CN

This course will survey the field of social psychology, which is the study of how social forces and social relationships shape individual thinking and behavior, with a focus on the classic studies and enduring topics in the field. Sample topics include: the self and self-esteem, altruism, aggressive behavior, close relationships, stereotyping and prejudice, and behavior in groups. Students will also be exposed to recent research and current debates on these topics. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 204-CN Sections
Intro to Neuroscience <> PSYCH 212-CN

Primary topics in this course include: research and theories concerning the physiological bases of behavior; fundamentals of neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuroscientific methods, neurochemistry, and neural development; brain substrates, neural processes, and clinical disorders related to sensory processing, motor control, neuroplasticity, and memory. Carries science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110. An introductory class in biology is strongly recommended.

View PSYCH 212-CN Sections
Developmental Psychology <> PSYCH 218-CN

The focus of this course is the development of perception, cognition, language, personality and social interaction from infancy through adolescence. We consider perspectives and methods in developmental research. We also explore specific issues, including: How do young infants perceive the world? How do infants and toddlers develop an attachment to their parents or caretakers? How does children's thinking and problem solving change across childhood and adolescence? How do parents' beliefs and values influence children's development and school achievement? How do parents' discipline style influence children's social and personality development? As each new topic is introduced, students are encouraged to think critically about the assumptions and methods that underlie research on particular issues. A central goal is to help students develop an appreciation of different criteria for evaluating research and other forms of evidence. The course will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 218-CN Sections
Psychopathology <> PSYCH 303-CN

What is a psychological disorder, and can we really define what it means to be abnormal? Despite a long history of studying psychological disorders, there is no clear consensus when it comes to answering these questions: Our understandings of what constitute psychological disorders and how to best treat them vary considerably across different time periods and cultures. It is fascinating to learn about the complexity in even defining psychological disorders. At the same time, it is also frustrating, especially in the face of real psychological distress that many experience: If we cannot agree on what psychological disorders are, then how are we to study them and treat them? In this course, we will begin exploring these questions through an introduction to the major categories of psychological disorders as we currently (and historically) understand them and through the integration of related research findings. In addition to focusing on the symptoms and causes of these disorders, we will learn about some major approaches to diagnosis, assessment, and treatment. Finally, special attention will be paid to current and/or controversial issues in abnormal psychology. The course will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam.

Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 303-CN Sections
Evolutionary Psychology PSYCH 342-CN

The central idea of this course is that there is such a thing as human nature, and it comes from our shared evolutionary history. Broad topics include mating psychology, and how men and women differ in their approaches to lust and love; and culture, and how humans are unusual among living things in their ability to acquire knowledge. Carries science or social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

View PSYCH 342-CN Sections
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