AFAM 390: Special Topics in African and African American Studies

AFAM 390-003: Soc Constructions of Blck Hlth
(Spring 2022)

03:00 PM to 04:15 PM MW

Innovation Hall 316

Section Information for Spring 2022

Knowledge about and assumptions of Blacks and health evolve communicatively through various levels of social interactions. These interactions produce a perceived social reality and knowledge of disease and illness that socially constructs Black health as unimportant, deviant, and inherently damaged – socially constructed troupes that have roots in transatlantic slave trade and continues to this day to adversely impact Black health. It is critical to deconstruct the diverse social constructions of Black health, disease, and illness to counter social sanctioned deterministic ideations and influences that maintain and propagate Black health disparities and inequities and help to expand health policy and improve health and medical care decisions.

This course will take on this deconstruction through an ecological, multidisciplinary, Black feminist communication lens. Social constructions are inherently situated within and shared through communication processes at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, communal, and organizational/institutional with macro-level contextual influences, such as structural racism, which is also a social construction. We cover each level and how it contributes to social constructions of Black health. This process will engage students in archival documents, slave narratives, media imagery, film, podcasts, and much more to foster critical thinking in discussions, group work, readings, class writing reflections, as well as in your own personal introspection. This course is open to all regardless of race and ethnicity. Each of us lives in a socially constructed reality with implications for our health.

Learning Objectives

  1. Define, explain, critique, and apply social construction theory
  2. Locate oneself as an actor influenced by social constructionism.
  3. Describe communication levels and requisite types of social interaction
  4. Analyze constructions/representations of Black health and health outcomes
  5. Apply intersectionality to social constructions, communication, and Black identities and health
  6. Develop a podcast, video, or webinar to synthesis course content and report to a lay audience


  • Multi-Media Journaling
  • Short papers
  • Interpretive Photovoice
  • Quizzes
  • Media-driven final project

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Study of selected topics related to the study of people of African descent in Africa, the United States, the Caribbean, Latin Americas and throughout the African Diaspora. Notes: May be repeated when topic is different. May be repeated within the term for a maximum 12 credits.
Specialized Designation: Topic Varies
Schedule Type: Lec/Sem #1, Lec/Sem #2, Lec/Sem #3, Lec/Sem #4, Lec/Sem #5, Lec/Sem #6, Lec/Sem #7, Lec/Sem #8, Lec/Sem #9, Lecture, Sem/Lec #10, Sem/Lec #11, Sem/Lec #12, Sem/Lec #13, Sem/Lec #14, Sem/Lec #15, Sem/Lec #16, Sem/Lec #17, Sem/Lec #18
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.