Society, Biology, and Health

Program Type: Cluster and Certificate

The primary objective of the Society, Biology, and Health Cluster is to create an interdisciplinary graduate training environment that will foster innovative research on the complex associations among human biology, society, and health.

Multi-level, multi-method research on society, biology, and health presents tremendous opportunities for enriching our understanding of the determinants and consequences of variation in health, but it also poses significant challenges. In particular, few social scientists possess the background in biological theory and method that is necessary to effectively measure, analyze, and interpret biological processes in community-based research settings. Collaborations with biomedical scientists can help address this gap, but if social scientists want to make the most of these efforts, it is incumbent upon them to share a common vocabulary with their collaborators.

The Society, Biology, and Health Cluster will likely appeal to students seeking degrees in anthropology, economics, human development and social policy, psychology, or sociology. We expect participating students to complement their disciplinary training with a level of biological knowledge that will allow them to think critically and creatively about how to use biological measures to address questions of interest to social scientists and policy makers.

See Society, Biology, and Health Cluster and Certificate Requirements for specific courses and procedures needed to complete this program.

Programs and Events

The cluster will draw on, and contribute to, ongoing initiatives associated with Cells to Society (C2S): The Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research. This includes regular colloquia with prominent outside speakers, informal workshops, and the potential to become involved with a wide range of research projects.

Who Should Apply?

Doctoral candidates from any field are eligible to apply to join this intellectual “home” outside their department. Past participants have come from the following programs:

  • Anthropology
  • Human Development and Social Policy
  • Sociology
  • Psychology

How to Apply

First-year students are invited to take part in the symposia, work groups, and colloquia offered by all of the clusters to see what may interest them later in their career. At the end of their first year, students will apply to a cluster.

Who to Contact

Please contact the program director, listed below, with questions about this program.

Thomas McDade
Professor of Anthropology
1810 Hinman Avenue, Room 101
Evanston, IL 60208-1310

Email: t-mcdade@northwestern.edu
Phone: (847) 467-4304