Department of Anthropology

Navigation + Search

Urban Health

Medical Anthropology Concentration


The Anthropology Department of Case Western Reserve University announces a new concentration in Urban Health at the masters and doctoral level.

The concentration in Urban Health prepares students for careers in anthropology, public health, or allied fields, with a special focus on racial and ethnic disparities in health and under-served populations in urban areas around the world.

This concentration is being undertaken as part of a larger initiative in Urban Health linking the Case Medical Anthropology Program with community partners and other units in the University around this critical issue. Under the guidance of faculty with research experience both domestically and internationally, students will learn anthropological theory and methods focusing on health and illness among urban populations.

This program draws upon the department’s strengths in medical anthropology, international health, political economy, minority populations, health care utilization, mental health, human biology, and bioethics. Students will gain hands-on experience working with community groups and with students and professionals in public health and the medical sciences.

The Urban Health concentration is part of the Medical Anthropology Program at Case. As such, it permits students at the masters or Doctoral level to concentrate their academic studies in the field of urban health. Students concentrating in Urban Health will combine classwork in Medical Anthropology with field-based practica, in the U.S. or internationally, thus providing a unique combination of academic and applied training.

Students will receive training in three core areas:

  1. State-of-the-art knowledge on contemporary urban health issues such as racial and ethnic disparities in health and cultural competence.
  2. Qualitative and quantitative methods for research, evaluation, and outcome assessment in urban health.
  3. Application of anthropological theory and methods to urban health problems through direct experience collaborating with urban communities and health providers.


As part of Case’s internationally recognized program in Medical Anthropology, the Urban Health concentration prepares students to conduct research and plan policy in urban health, focusing on the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health and health care.

Urban dwellers represent an ever-increasing segment of the world’s population. As this trend continues, urban populations, especially the urban poor, will challenge current approaches to health research. New and innovative approaches will be needed to eliminate the pervasive racial and ethnic disparities that now exist in health and health care.

The Urban Health Program at Case is in the forefront of researchers working to combat this problem by using medical anthropologists’ health research in diverse ethnic communities around the world. This research is a powerful theoretical and methodological basis for effectively addressing these issues.

The initiative for an urban health concentration in Medical Anthropology comes from the need to move health research within anthropology away from traditional dichotomies that separate research in international health from research in developed settings, like the United States.

This program considers the technique and methods honed in non-Western contexts as relevant to urban U.S. contexts, and vice versa, prepares students for careers in anthropological research focusing on urban health regardless of their specific geographic interest.

Graduates of the Case Urban Health initiative will be well prepared to serve at the forefront of public health research and service in the coming decades, both internationally and domestically.

Recent requests for proposals arising from HHS include an explicit call for research with an anthropological perspective, including research on both patients and providers. The HHS commitment to addressing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in health necessitates a new type of research that is centered on the underlying causes of health and disability, including poverty, lack of access to care, and environmental hazards, as well as the development of culturally-appropriate interventions to address health needs in these communities.

The CDC sponsors training for “Public Health Prevention Specialists,” with the goal of returning public health research to a community-based level. These public health initiatives highlight the need to expand the core of qualified researchers with training in Medical Anthropology.


Students enrolled in the Medical Anthropology Program choosing to concentrate in urban health will take the Medical Anthropology core courses (ANTH 319-or equivalent, 439, 462, 480, 481) plus the Urban Health core course (ANTH 461), the Urban Health/Cultural Competence practicum (ANTH 444), and EPBI 490. An additional elective will be selected in consultation with the Urban Health Concentration adviser, for a total of 27 hours.



 ANTH 319  Introduction to Statistical Analysis in Social Science (or equivalent)
 ANTH 439  Ethnographic and Qualitative Research Methods
 ANTH 461  Urban Health
 ANTH 462  Contemporary Theory in Anthropology
 ANTH 480 / 481  Medical Anthropology and Global Health I and II
 ANTH 504  Anthropological Research Design
 EPBI 490  Epidemiology: Introduction to Theory and Methods



Urban Health students will take the Medical Anthropology MA exam.


Students wishing to concentrate in Urban Health at the doctoral level must complete all the requirements for the Medical Anthropology PhD program. As part of their 18 hours of PhD classwork students must take ANTH 447 and ANTH 530.

Students concentrating in Urban Health must complete a PhD candidacy examination covering the field of Urban Health.



ANTH 530: Seminar on Selected Topics in Urban Health and Racial/Ethnic Disparities

Page last modified: January 6, 2015