Sophomore Seminar (TASS) | 2014 Programs


Health Disparities: The Importance of Gender, Race/Ethnicity, and Social Class

Indiana University, Bloomington
June 22 – August 2, 2014
Faculty: Pamela Braboy Jackson, Department of Sociology; and Rasul Mowatt, Department of Recreation, Park, and Tourism Studies, School of Public Health, Indiana University
Tutors:  Becca Browne, Loyola University Chicago; and David Luna, Columbia University
The World Health Organization provides the political, academic, and social realms with a definition of health as a holistic state of physical, mental and social well-being – not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. In other words, health is life vibrancy or the quality of one’s life. The United States ranks 13th out of 111 countries in quality of life according to the Economist Intelligence Unit. The realities in the United States, however, often do not emulate this level of ranking when a deeper analysis is made of the quality of life for a vast number of citizens. Alongside differences based on gender, race/ethnicity, and social class, research continues to highlight disparities in the quality of life for specific populations of color. For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that clearly indicated that Native American, Latino/a and African American populations deal with stark numbers in regard to infant mortality, heart disease, HIV/AIDS death rates, diabetes, and substance abuse. To address these disparities and determinants of quality of life, efforts such as Healthy People 2010, National Center for the Health Statistics, and REACH 2010 were aimed at equalizing access to health care, raising general awareness, working at the community level, and changing lifestyles to create healthy people in healthy communities throughout the United States.

This seminar focuses on the general topic of health disparities. Primarily through active learning-based class discussion and case study-based class participation, we explore the definitions of health disparities. We review the issue of injustice and discrimination as we come to understand the systematic causes and social determinants of health. Lastly, we consider the complex and intersectional role that gender, race, ethnicity, and social class play in influencing a wide range of health outcomes.


Comparing and Performing Black Theatre
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
June 22 – August 2, 2014
Faculty: Charles (OyamO) Gordon, and Dieudonné Mbala Nkanga, Department of Theatre and Drama, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Tutors:  Deycha Robinson, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; and Summer Sloane-Britt, Swarthmore College
What is black theatre? This is a question African American and African performers and scholars have faced since the times of the Harlem Renaissance in the early 1920s to the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s, on one side, and the postcolonial African theatre, on the other side. Black theatre presents and represents the experiences and identities of black people located essentially in Sub-Saharan Africa, the United States of America, and the Antilles. The body of works included in the black theatre is based on common experiences of violence, efforts for survival, joys and tears of social life, and the challenges of today’s changing cultural trends as they touch on questions of individual and community identities. African and African American dramatists and performers have excelled in expressing what it means to be black in Africa and in the Americas.

This course intends to introduce young students to the major developments in the aesthetic experience of black drama and theatre in the United States, Antilles, and Africa. Through reading plays and critical materials, viewing videos and films, students consider, question, and compare the experience of domination, colonialism, post-colonialism, and emancipation of the black people in this geographical space as expressed by various playwrights and artists of African descent over the last fifty years. Students engage in thinking, discussing, and writing about the ways in which black playwrights and performers consider their sociohistorical and cultural experiences as basic materials in their artistic and literary works, and in their creative processes. Students are also challenged to look at the audience and its reception of these plays. Additionally, students select scenes from some of the plays for staging, introducing them to basic techniques of dramaturgy and stage work (directing and acting).
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