Social Justice in Public Health Modules

The World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health concluded that “the social conditions in which people are born, live and work are the single most important determinants of good health or ill health, of a long and productive life, or a short and miserable one”.1 

The following modules were drawn from multiple sources and were originally developed for a fully online course in “Social Justice in Public Health”, offered to University of Wisconsin students interested in earning a Master of Public Health degree. These materials include interviews and highly relevant discussions with public health experts in the field, as well as excerpts from several online “mini-lectures” that were originally offered as part of the course. Dr. Alice Yan and Dr. Renee Walker—from the UW-Milwaukee Zilber School of Public Health—narrated the presentations and have taught the online course. Additional resources are also provided, which include a video segment from the “Unnatural Causes” documentary series, which were aired originally in 2008 and is still relevant. Several selected readings and reports are also provided. 

The course was originally designed by Dr. Alice Yan and developed in collaboration with UW-Madison Division of Information Technology, Academic Technology and the Wisconsin Center for Public Health Education and Training, or WiCPHET.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of these modules, you will be able to:

  • Explain how social determinants affect health

  • Recognize how differences in socioeconomic status affect health outcomes

  • Compare various roles in public health

  • Explore public health issues with an increased awareness of the social justice framework

Click on the link to access each mini-lecture segment:

  1. Introduction (24 min.)  | Transcript Download PDF transcript
  2. Socioeconomic Status (8 min.)  | Transcript Download PDF transcript

  3. SES, Race and Ethnicity (5 min.)  | Transcript Download PDF transcript
  4. Social Network, Social Support, Social Cohesion and Health (6 min.)  | Transcript Download PDF transcript
  5. Neighborhood Environment and Health (8 min.)  | Transcript Download PDF transcript


Discussions with Public Health Professionals

The following video includes excerpts from several interviews with public health professionals working in Wisconsin. These interviews were conducted by Dr. Yan.

Optional readings and resources

1) Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants of health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008. Available from: [accessed 25 November 2010].