A Queer Theory Approach to Public Health

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Course DatesMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRNRegistration
July 15, 2019 - August 02, 20197/15 - 8/02M-F 12:15P-3:05POpenJackson McMahon

Course Description

How do we define sex and gender? How do we talk about sexuality? How are LGBTQ+ people represented in public health research? How is the quality of care LGBTQ+ people receive? These are important questions that need to be addressed in public health. How we ask questions and how we talk about LGBTQ+ people matters and needs to be discussed when looking at the merits of public health research.

This class will frame the discussion of public health within terms of queer theory. We will start our time together by defining the core concepts in queer theory, mainly focusing on identity, normativity and performativity. We will unpack the foundational texts of queer theory in order to prepare us to discuss important topics in LGBTQ+ health.

We will look at the ethics of study design so we show respect to the communities we work with. We will talk about community engagement through the study process. Then we will move into discussing the important findings of research and look at LGBTQ+ health disparities. Finally, we will spend time talking about broad concepts relating to LGBTQ+ health as a whole: mental health, violence against gender and sexual minorities, interactions with healthcare providers, and access to healthcare.

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
…Write a first-year college level paper on a relevant topic of their choice. This course aims to help students achieve this level of writing in order to help them with future essays.
…Give a professional presentation based on their research. Public speaking is an important skill and this will allow students the opportunity to practice using a topic they are passionate about.
…Engage in a nuanced discussion of LGBTQ+ health, so that they are able to better participate in the current conversations around them.

Prerequisites: No prior knowledge on queer theory, LGBTQ+ topics, or healthcare in general, is required. We will cover everything necessary to participate in class through readings and short lectures. This class may be better for older students (15+) because of the nature of the topics and personal nature of some of the content. Completion of at least a year of high school level writing is recommended so that students are able to think conceptually about how to craft a well-written research paper.


Course Information

  • Course Code: CEPC0901
  • Length: 3 weeks

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences, offering over 200 non-credit courses, one- to four-weeks long, taught on Brown’s campus. For students completing grades 9-12 by June 2019.

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