Skip to Main Content


The pedagogical approach to health equity is grounded in an educational framework based on Paolo Freire’s Critical Pedagogy. This framework challenges learners to think analytically about the influence of sociocultural, political, economic, and environmental determinants on health. It is designed to awaken the critical consciousness of learners so they become active partners in the transformative changes needed to achieve health equity. The framework acknowledges the important influence of students’ own lived experiences and knowledge in shaping their education. The Critical Pedagogy model proposes that when the domains of health equity are taught and explored, students themselves will at times be experts on some topics related to equity. Therefore, during any given learning exchange, a student may share in the role as teacher, and the teacher may assume the role as learner, thereby enhancing learning for all.

Longitudinal Curriculum Integration

The Health Equity Thread integrates health equity content longitudinally throughout the curriculum rather than as isolated modules. This approach ensures that students consistently encounter and engage with health equity concepts, reinforcing their understanding and commitment to addressing disparities.

Community-Based Experiences

In iPro – Introduction to the Profession (IN1), the course incorporates community-based experiences. First-year students visit Columbus House, a non-profit which serves unhoused people. Students also visit Errera VA Clinic to learn about providing healthcare services to Veterans. Students are also given the opportunity to volunteer as a class in the community. These underserved areas and volunteer opportunities in community settings expose students to the challenges faced by vulnerable populations. These experiences foster a deeper understanding of the social determinants of health.

Case-Based Learning

In Populations & Methods (PM1 and PM2), the course utilizes case studies that highlight diverse patient populations and their unique social, economic, and cultural contexts. These cases prompt discussions on how these factors impact health outcomes, emphasizing the importance of understanding and addressing health disparities.

Patient Narratives

In Connection to the World (CW2), the course incorporates patient narratives that highlight the lived experiences of individuals from diverse backgrounds. These stories can humanize health disparities, fostering empathy and a deeper understanding of the impact of social determinants on health outcomes.

Cultural Competence Training

Integrate cultural competence training throughout the curriculum to help medical students develop the skills necessary to provide equitable care to patients from diverse backgrounds. This includes understanding cultural nuances, communication skills, and awareness of implicit biases. In the Clerkship Precedes (PR3), clerkship students build upon their health equity knowledge development during the preclerkship period. The Precedes give students an opportunity to have more in depth health equity discussions, develop advocacy skills, and practice more advanced health equity-related clinical encounters.