Elective Courses

Medical Anthropology

Instructor: Dr. Malissa K. Shaw

Medical anthropology is a subfield of cultural anthropology that has rapidly developed in the past five decades.  Currently, the Society for Medical Anthropology is the largest section of the American Anthropological Association. The issues studied by medical anthropologists are diverse, including ethnomedicine, epidemiology, maternal and child health, nutrition, human development in relation to health and disease, healthcare providers and services, public health, health policy, and language and speech of health and healthcare. Namely, medical anthropology encompasses all anthropological studies of health and healing. It takes the tools of anthropology and applies them to human illness, suffering, disease and wellbeing. To give a proper rendering of medical anthropology, this course covers the history, and important theories and research topics within medical anthropology. This course also covers some important case studies that have been carried out by medical anthropologists in different fieldsites and have contributions to improving human well-being.

This course aims to teach students about: (1) the issues of human health from a bio-cultural perspective; (2) the ways in which human culture and societies construct health, disease, healing, and therapeutic efficacy; and (3) how political economic factors affect the status of human health.

Medical Sociology

Instructor: Dr. Kao Meei-Ying

The overall goal for this course is to give students an understanding (and appreciation) of the social as well as the biological aspects of medicine, including the meaning of health, illness, medical diagnoses and treatments, and issues concerning the healthcare system. At the completion of the course students will: (1) understand the tools to distinguish between disease (biological pathology) and illness (socially determined) as experienced on both the individual and societal levels; (2) recognize the differences in “illness distribution” both between and within various groups (gender, race, age, etc.) in an attempt to highlight a number of the social determinants of health; (3) appreciate physicians and other healthcare workers as professionals, including the processes of education and socialization which define their work; (4) understand the US healthcare system, including a comparison to countries with national healthcare, and stimulate your thoughts about potential for reform; (5) think critically about how sociology can be applied to the medical field, and use “sociological” tools to uncover the social determinants and consequences of health and disease. Throughout the course, students will be asked to apply a sociological perspective to health, illness, and medicine. We will discuss social theories and research concerning health-related attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes. In addition, we will consider the social and historical context of such issues, including health care as a system and illness as an individual experience.

Medicalized Conception in the Global Context

Instructor: Dr. Malissa K. Shaw

This course will explore the multiple dimensions of incorporating assisted reproductive technologies into diverse contexts through three sections, in which students will learn to think critically about the positive and negative implications of the development and spread of new biomedical practices. In the first unit, we will explore the origins of ARTs, the many diverse perceptions of their use, and their transformation of notions of kin relations, family structures, and gender norms. In the second unit, we will begin to consider the spread of ARTs to the “Global South,” and the socio-cultural implications involved for patients and medical professionals in these new contexts. In the final unit, we will consider the increasing movement of people and biogenetic materials across contexts spurred by the growing use of these technologies on a global scale.

This course aims to: (1) develop students understanding about understand the socio-cultural, legal, and ethical implications of the development and spread of ARTs; (2) introduce students to the early wave feminist critique of ARTs, and how these criticisms have evolved in the past 30 years – transforming conceptualizations of gender, agency, and power; (3) teach students how to critically analyze the gender, class, and cross-border implications of the global spread of biomedical technologies, and the implications for national and global health care policies/recommendations; and (4) to cultivate a critical understanding of the implications of the commercialization of health care and its affects on stratified reproduction, and medical inequality more broadly.

Sex, Gender & Bodies

Instructor: Dr. Lih-Wen Shih

What makes us who we are, and what role do our bodies play in the way we see ourselves, the way other sees us, and the way we engage with the world, aInstructor: Dr. Shih Liwennd not least, the way we engage with the medical system? Whether we want it or not, gender plays a huge role in our lives, and in the ways others treat us both in the general sense of the word and in the medical sense. Are you male or female? Some find this to be a straightforward question and a matter of biological fact, but in this course, you will reflect on how this question can be difficult to answer and our need to think beyond biology. 

In this course, you will be introduced to the interdisciplinary study of sex, gender and body. You will learn about the theories behind this field and get your first grasp of how to pose and answer research questions in this area. The course mainly takes a feminist approach, and you will learn about key frameworks within this field. The course is divided into two parts. In part one, you will learn about the important distinction between “sex” and “gender” and about body politics. In part two, we will discuss and read about reproduction, the body and how gender also is an important concept when examining the production of science.

After taking this course, you will be able to reflect on how knowledge is more than just facts, but inseparable from the social context from which it has been generated. You will be able to reflect critically on the ethics of research and on the relationship between different disciplines and understand that between disciplines there are interdisciplinary fields such as Gender and Women’s Studies. You will have gained an awareness of and an ability to reflect critically on gender and the role of gender in your personal and professional life. If you move on to work in the healthcare system, you can use this ability on top of your medical knowledge and hopefully gain a deeper understanding of patients, relatives and colleagues that will result in more sensitive care.

Integrated Nutrition

Instructor: Prof. Lin Yih-Ren & Prof. Ling-Ling Yang

This course aims to integrate traditional medical knowledge, modern nutrition science, and indigenous culture. By employing practices in the field, we will engage with issues related to the revitalization of indigenous culture in the modern context of the health sciences. The topics we will cover include traditional and modern concepts about health, disease and nutrition, indigenous ecological knowledge, and green economy among others. We will collaborate with Tayal communities in the Jienshi District of Hsinchu County and apply the knowledge and technique of integrative nutrition to the local communities to prevent chronic disease and improve the local economy.

Applied Statistics

Instructor: Dr. Kao Meei-Ying

This course covers the elementary statistical techniques commonly used in social and behavior sciences quantitative research. Topics include descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, analysis of association, analysis of variance, regression, and elementary causal modeling. The course emphasizes the understanding of statistical concepts and uses of statistics rather than mathematical formulas. The use of computers for analysis of real data is an important feature of this class.

The purpose of this course is to help students develop some important statistical concepts and ability which are essentials for conducting independent research.

Health Aging and Long-Term Care

Instructor: Prof. Lin Yih-Ren

This class introduces the contents, issues, practice and research in successful aging, active aging, age friendly and dementia friendly environments, and long-term care policy and management. This class is expected to help students to learn about elderly health and long-term care, and promote students interests in research or occupations in this field.

* This is only a small selection of some of the Elective Courses offered each semester. Students are allowed to take courses offered by other Colleges/Institutes at TMU or our Partner Universities. For more information on additional Elective Courses at TMU (Student log-in required) .