Health, Population and the Life Course

Although health and illness is typically thought to be the domain of medicine and physicians, medicine is a deeply sociocultural phenomenon, occupying a considerable amount of time, money and energy. Research in health, population, and the life course emerged as a vitally important field because it enables analyses of the critical role that social factors play in determining or influencing the health of individuals, groups, and the larger society.  Our department’s program in health, population and the life course provides students with the theoretical and methodological tools to think beyond biology in order to answer some of the thorniest questions in medicine and public health.

We are proud to continue a long tradition of excellence in medicine sociology at Rutgers University. In the late 1970s, David Mechanic established the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research (IHHCPAR), which continues to serve as an important interdisciplinary home for research on the social and cultural determinants of health. Research on the life course originated at Rutgers during the 1960s. One of the major paradigms in this area, the age stratification model, was developed at Rutgers by Matilda White Riley, Anne Foner, and others. Our award-winning faculty today conduct research on a broad set of subjects across the sociology of medicine, and population health, including demographic research on suicide rates in the United States (Phillips), children’s health assessments (Bzostek), pain and stigma (Kempner), race and biomedicine (Bliss, Lee), aging in Asia (Lei), environmental health (Mackendrick), and gendered effects on biomarkers (Springer).

We offer rigorous graduate training and mentoring in health and illness, life course and population studies as well as the politics of knowledge. Our most recent graduates have secured positions as tenure-track assistant professors, postdoctoral fellows, or research scientists at prestigious institutions including the Bloustein School of Public Policy at Rutgers University, Columbia School of Public Health, Weill Cornell Medicine, National Center for Health Statistics, Brown University, University of Maryland-Baltimore, University of Delaware, Princeton University, RAND Corporation, University of Minnesota, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, and Virginia Commonwealth University. At the undergraduate level, we offer a variety of courses on social dimensions of health and medicine. Our minor in Health and Society provides students with an excellent opportunity to study questions of physical and mental health, health behaviors and practices, and health care institutions, through a social and cultural lens, and across national and global contexts.