“Folk medicine” loosely refers to traditional ways of treating disease and promoting health that exist outside of--or alongside--regimens endorsed by biomedical medicine, the United States’ mainstream model. Folk medicines exist within culturally-transmitted systems of beliefs about the root causes and proper treatments of illness. This tutorial is aimed at (but not limited to) students who want to enter health professions like medicine, dentistry, nursing, public health, psychology, and social work and are interested in expanding their cultural competence as it relates to healthcare delivery in the United States. Using applied folklore, which folklorist David Hufford characterizes as the “application of folklore studies to solve practical problems,” we will study several health belief systems to familiarize future practitioners with alternative traditions and their benefits and potential challenges. Coursework will include leadership of discussion for two classes and a final fieldwork project.
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