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HNSC 4150 Techniques of Community Health Education: Health Equity



Choose ONE video and watch on your own (outside of class):

  1. "Unnatural causes: In sickness and in health"
  2. "Class Divided"


  1. Fertman, C. Chapter 2
  2. "Disparity in Life Spans of the Rich and the Poor Is Growing"


Discuss video(s) in class

Unnatural Causes: Description of series

UNNATURAL CAUSES, a seven part series, sounds the alarm about the extent of our glaring socio-economic and racial inequities in health and searches for their root causes. But those causes are not what we might expect. While we pour more and more money into drugs, dietary supplements and new medical technologies, UNNATURAL CAUSES crisscrosses the country investigating the findings that are shaking up conventional understanding of what really makes us healthy or sick.

UNNATURAL CAUSES is a medical detective story out to solve the mystery of what's stalking and killing us before our time, especially those of us who are less affluent and darker-skinned. But its investigators keep peeling back the onion, broadening their inquiry beyond the immediate, physical causes of death to the deeper, underlying causes that lurk in our neighborhoods, our jobs and even back in history.

The perpetrators, of course, aren't individuals but rather societal and institutional forces. And theirs are not impulsive crimes of passion. These are slow deaths the result of a lifetime of grinding wear and tear, thwarted ambition, segregation and neglect. But this is also a story of hope and possibility, of communities organizing to gain control over their destinies and their health.

The good news is that if bad health comes from policy decisions that we as a society have made, then we can make other decisions. Some countries already have, and they are living longer, fuller lives as a result.

Series Citation: Kanopy (Firm). (2014). Unnatural causes series. Retrieved from

From off-campus you will be asked to enter your Brooklyn College email ID and password to watch.
You can view online or printout a pdf transcript of each episode in either English or Spanish, no login required.

Questions to ask yourself as you watch these videos

  1. What is the life expectancy difference between the top half of the earning and the bottom half?
  2. What determines health in our society? 
  3. Is the level of wealth determining the level of health, in our society?
    1. If so, is it justified in our “civil” society?

Episode 1: In Sickness and In Wealth

EPISODE ONE, 56 MINS (SERIES OPENER). What are the connections between healthy bodies, healthy bank accounts and skin color? Our opening episode travels to Louisville, Kentucky, not to explore whether medical care cures us, but to see why we get sick in the first place, and why patterns of health and illness reflect underlying patterns of class and racial inequities.

Citation: California Newsreel (Firm). (2014). Unnatural causes: Episode 1.

Frontline "Class Divided"

One day in 1968, Jane Elliott, a teacher in a small, all-white Iowa town, divided her third-grade class into blue-eyed and brown-eyed groups and gave them a daring lesson in discrimination. This is the story of that lesson, its lasting impact on the children, and its enduring power 30 years later.

Readings: Health Disparities and Other Basic Issues

Chapter 2

Fertman, C., Allensworth, Diane DeMuth, & MyiLibrary. (2017). Health promotion programs from theory to practice (2nd ed.).

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