WGS.151 | Spring 2016 | Undergraduate

Gender, Health, and Society

Instructor Insights

Course Overview

This page focuses on the course WGS.151 Gender, Health, and Society as it was taught by Dr. Brittany Charlton in Spring 2016.

This interdisciplinary course introduces students to gender as a theoretical concept and examines its relation to health, including public health practice, epidemiologic research, health policy, and clinical application. The focus includes global, domestic, and historical perspectives, using the following examples: cardiovascular disease, hormone therapy, pregnancy, birth, sexually transmitted infections, abortion, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, contraceptives, and mental health.

The course draws on different disciplines, conceptual frameworks, and methodologic approaches in order to explore gender in relation to health while also considering other social determinants of health, including social class and race.

Course Outcomes

Course Goals for Students

  • Describe differences between gender, sex-linked biology, and sexuality as well as critically evaluate their use in health research, social and behavioral sciences, and health policy
  • Evaluate the breadth of research and research methods in the study of gender and health
  • Apply theoretical and methodological constructs learned in class to a range of health issues, taking into consideration additional social determinants including social class and race

Instructor Insights

"Students bring a broad range of experiences to the course. For some students, this is the first time they are engaging with how sex-linked biology differs from gender. Other students have yet to think about health in an academic context. With good facilitation, these diverse groups of students can teach one another."
—Brittany Charlton

In the following pages, Dr. Brittany Charlton describes various aspects of how she teaches WGS.151 Gender, Health, and Society.

Curriculum Information



Requirements Satisfied


WGS.151 can be applied toward a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Science or a Bachelor of Science in Humanities and Engineering, but is not required.


Every spring semester


The students’ grades were based on the following activities:

  • 20% Class participation
  • 15% Weekly reading reflections
  • 15% Testimony or Opinion in preparation for the in-class mock state assembly meeting
  • 10% Final project proposal
  • 30% Final project
  • 10% Final project presentation

Student Information


30 students

Breakdown by Year

The course enrollment was primarily made up of third and fourth year students with a handful of second year students, as well as a few first year and graduate students.

Breakdown by Major

Students had various majors ranging from biology to chemical engineering to computer science. A number of students also cross-registered from Wellesley College.

Typical Student Background

This was the first Women and Gender Studies course for about half of the students. About a third of the students expressed an interest in pursuing some kind of career related to the course material (e.g., medicine, public health, public policy).

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:


  • Met once a week for 3 hours per session; 10 sessions total; mandatory attendance.
  • All students were expected to complete the readings and to participate in classroom discussions and activities.
  • During week 5, students participated in a mock state assembly meeting on HPV vaccinations, during which they either had testimony to delivery (as a witness) or a written opinion (as an assembly member).

Out of Class

  • Readings in preparation for class sessions
  • 8 weekly reading reflections
  • Preparation for mock state assembly meeting
  • Final project and proposal
  • One presentation

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2016
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments with Examples
Instructor Insights