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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Master of Arts Concentrations

Medical Anthropology



Our MA program in cultural anthropology offers a unique focus on Medical Anthropology. Medical anthropology is a subdiscipline of anthropology that includes the study of all aspects of health, illness and disease in human communities and populations.  It draws on all of the perspectives that distinguish anthropology as a unique discipline:  the analysis of human evolution and adaptation; cultural development, expressions, and variability; and historical change and continuity.  Medical anthropology takes as its subject a broad range of specific topics, including the study of health care systems, factors that affect the distribution and determinants of disease in populations, maternal and child health, nutrition and food habits,  human development, political ecology, health policy, health disparities, community-driven wellness practices, visual storytelling, social media designed to promote health equities, and language and communication in health care contexts.  

Faculty members take a variety of theoretical approaches to the topic, but our program is distinguished by its applied and engaged perspectives. A particular strength of our program is its integration of theoretical knowledge with community- and field-based training opportunities and challenges. We prepare students for careers in nonprofit and community groups, non-governmental organizations, advocacy, public health, health care institutions, and health sciences research; our graduates also attend doctoral programs at selective institutions. Courses in the department are complemented by electives in other departments (sociology, biology, psychology, history, geography, political science) and programs on the UC Denver campus (public affairs, education, health administration) and at the Anschutz Medical Campus (Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Pharmacy and Nursing).

Read about our current and past students here.

Courses

As part of the MA degree, students may take between 6 and 18 credits of electives in this track, choosing from:

  • ANTH 5000 Special Topics in Anthropology
  • ANTH 5014 Medical Anthropology: Global Health
  • ANTH 5040 Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
  • ANTH 5060 Evolutionary Medicine
  • ANTH 5080 Global Health Practice
  • ANTH 5090 Political Economy of Drugs
  • ANTH 5150 Human Biocultural Adaptability
  • ANTH 5180 The Nature of Power
  • ANTH 5200 Gender in Cross Cultural Perspective
  • ANTH 5290 Anthropology and Public Health
  • ANTH 5300 Migrant Health
  • ANTH 5350 Anthropology of Globalization
  • ANTH 5450 Development and Conservation: Contemporary Issues
  • ANTH 5460 Development and Conservation: Theory and Practice
  • ANTH 5600 Medical Anthropology
  • ANTH 5800 Special Topics in Medical Anthropology

Note: Students are encouraged to take elective courses in GIS mapping (geography), ecology (biology/anthropology), public policy, public health, epidemiology and biostatistics as it is relevant to their course of study.

Those Interested in Advanced Study

A doctoral program on the UC Denver campus that may be of particular interest to graduates is the PhD in Health and Behavioral Sciences offered through the Department of Health and Behavioral Sciences (http://clas.ucdenver.edu/hbsc) and is highly interdisciplinary. It is a natural extension of a master's degree in anthropology.

Full-Time Faculty

John Brett (PhD, University of California-Berkeley/University of California-San Francisco, 1994)

Nutrition, ethnoecology, evolutionary medicine, issues of sustainability; Mexico, Guatemala, Bolivia, urban and rural Colorado

Profile | John.Brett@ucdenver.edu

Sarah Horton (PhD, University of New Mexico, 2003)

Medical anthropology, public policy, health citizenship, globalization, migration and transnationalism, “illegality,” US Latinos; US Southwest, Mexico

Website | Profile | Sarah.Horton@ucdenver.edu

Steve Koester (PhD, University of Colorado, 1986)

Medical anthropology, substance use, disease transmission, political ecology, resource management (US, Vietnam, Eastern Caribbean)

Profile | Steve.Koester@ucdenver.edu

Marty Otanez (PhD, University of California-Irvine, 2004)

Political ecology, visual ethnography, media production, labor studies, health policy, tobacco control; Africa

Website | Profile | Marty.Otanez@ucdenver.edu

Zaneta Thayer (PhD, Northwestern University, 2013)

Human biology; developmental plasticity; reproductive biology; health disparities

Zaneta.Thayer@ucdenver.edu

David Tracer (PhD, University of Michigan, 1991)

Biological anthropology, maternal and child health, growth and development, decision-making theory

Profile | David.Tracer@ucdenver.edu

Affiliated Faculty

Sharon Devine (PhD, University of Colorado Denver, 2009)

Research ethics, public health evaluation, health disparities, Latino “health paradox”

Profile | Sharon.Devine@ucdenver.edu

Manuel Espinoza (PhD, UCLA, 2007)

Migrant education, literacy, modernity, human development, Chicano studies

Manuel.Espinoza@ucdenver.edu

Dave Ruppert (PhD, University of Arizona, 1979)

Cultural Anthropology, Southeast Asia, Western United States

Dave_Ruppert@nps.gov

Jean Scandlyn (PhD, Columbia University, 1993)

Healing and ritual; community based health care delivery; adolescence; migration; gender and anthropology; North America, Latin America, Southeast Asia

Profile | Jean.Scandlyn@ucdenver.edu

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Majors 

Career Opportunities

Choose from bachelor's degree programs in the humanities, natural and physical sciences, social sciences and integrated sciences.

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Majors 

Engaged and Community-Based Anthropology

Choose from bachelor's degree programs in the humanities, natural and physical sciences, social sciences and integrated sciences.

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