Course: Health Across the Life Span: Frameworks, Contexts, and Measurements

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Course Description

Introduces and examines the basic prinicples which guide growth and development and the health of individuals across the lifespan, from the prenatal period through senescence. Presents methodological, conceptual and substantive issues necessary for understanding and evaluating empirically based information about growth, development and health at different stages of life and from different academic perspectives. Course covers several themes, including contributions of biological and environmental factors to health and human development, measuring the health of individuals in communities, understanding determinants and consequences of health and development across the lifespan, measuring population health and assessing the implications of health disparities.

Course Objectives

After completing this course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Identify an alternative approach to the health of populations other than the disease-based approach
  • Discuss the value of integrating multiple perspectives to understanding human health, including the demographic, human development, lifespan, family, and community contexts
  • Demonstrate how a longitudinal, lifespan approach provides an expanded understanding of the multiple determinants of health
  • Identify the common models of behavior change used in public health at both the individual and the population levels
  • Describe an integrated approach to understanding the health of populations in developing and developed countries


A list of required readings is shown on the Readings page, and a full printer-friendly list is also available.

Course Requirements


> Summary of Major Assignments

Assignment 1: A 1,000-word paper.

Assignment 2: A 1,000-word paper.

Assignment 3: This assignment involves a group component and an individual component. Groups will develop a PowerPoint presentation, post it on the BBS, and present it during the final LiveTalk session. As part of the individual component, each student will write a 1,000-word paper on one of the aspects of the presentation.

Exercise/Discussions: The exercise discussions in the course (see schedule for details) provide opportunities for in depth review of several course topics.