The Minor

The minor consists of 15 credit hours. It has two required core courses and three electives, which can be taken from a broad swath of programs/departments or from a more cohesive thematic concentration (such as Health and Equity; Inequality, Justice, and Race; Gender and Health; Medicine and the Arts; History of Biomedical Sciences; Global Health, etc.). There are no prerequisites for the minor and it is open to all interested Notre Dame students.

Learning Goals:

The learning goals for the program are for students to:

  • Understand that medicine is more than a technical body of knowledge
  • Learn the deeper social and humanistic factors underpinning of health
  • Be exposed to an interdisciplinary body of knowledge that spans humanities and the social sciences
  • Engage with or master perspectives that will better prepare them for careers in health care

Requirements (6 Credit Hours):

The American Healthcare System in Perspective

An interdisciplinary class that examines the historical, economic, political and social dimensions of the practice of health care delivery in the United States. The course provides an overview of both the institutional structure of the health care system and of the medical practices that predominate in those institutions, including aspects such as function, reform possibilities, risk, and equity. Students are encouraged to consider race, class, gender, identity, and age as factors that influence the experience with health and illness, as well as their impact on the delivery of medical care. This class places the American system in perspective with other systems of medicine through time and cross-culturally.

Contemporary Concerns in Medicine

A a seminar that explores some of the most important and challenging topics in medicine and society today: anti-vaxxers, pandemics, opioid crises, stem cell research, brain death, organ donation, or race-based inequities in medical settings. Students in this class will gain an understanding of the ethical, social, and practical dimensions of a variety of healthcare and health policy issues and how providers navigate these dimensions in their care. A key part of the class is the opportunity for students to engage directly with healthcare workers who will serve as guest speakers. The seminar will emphasize writing and journaling, and will directly integrate matters of health care with broader humanistic and social science approaches to health, wellbeing, the body, etc. to deepen students’ understandings of what medicine is. 

Electives (9 Credit Hours):

All students will take two core classes and three electives, which they can select from the list of available courses or, in consultation with an adviser, they can create classes within thematic concentrations. We offer a wide selection of elective courses across Arts and Letters. One course may be substituted by a single-semester senior essay or capstone project.

Upcoming Course Offerings

  • American Healthcare System in Perspective
  • Global Cultural Worlds
  • Health and Culture
  • Anthropology of Migration
  • Identity Equality Democracy
  • Topics in Global Health
  • Water, Disease and Global Health
  • Ancient Sport and Society
  • Visual History of Medicine

For more details, please consult the University's Course Catalog

Meet the Faculty:

Cat Bolten (Anthropology)

Marie Donahue (Eck Institute/Biology)

Gary Fromm (Clinical Medicine, IU School of Medicine)

Essaka Joshua (English)

Terence McDonnell (Sociology)

Phil Mirowski (Reilly Center)

Vanesa Miseres (Romance Languages)

Evan Ragland (History)

Anna Geltzer (Reilly Center)

Vania Smith-Oka (Anthropology)

* Laurel Daen (American Studies)

* Tawrin Baker (Reilly Center)

How do I declare the major/minor?

Interested students should reach out to Prof. Anna Geltzer ( or Prof. Smith-Oka ( for information about the program and about adding the minor.