CoursesHealth Capability
BENF 229-301

Health Capability

This course examines the idea of health capability.  Health capability is the ability to be healthy; it integrates health functioning and health agency. Health capability helps us understand the conditions that facilitate and barriers that impede health and the ability to make healthy choices.

Tuesdays, 10:15 AM – 1:15 PM

Health capabilities are key strengths resulting from individual and societal commitment of human, financial, and physical resources with the goal of helping people thrive. Differences in health capability explain why, for example, personal skills and determination or health beliefs are not enough to achieve health, why people with even the best external conditions can still have poor health, and why a narrow biomedical model of disease is insufficient.

This is an SNF Paideia designated course, as well as a Benjamin Franklin scholar course, and a social policy and practice course, open to both Penn undergraduate and graduate students.

Health capability captures the dynamic, interactive, multidimensionality of health and flourishing. Health capability has the effect of creating a virtuous circle; developing people’s health capability enables them to create and support the conditions for their own and other’s health capability and so forth. It offers an evaluation of the aim and success of public policies in terms of people’s lived experiences. The course is motivated by the idea that health capabilities ought to be a primary dimension in which equity in health and public policy is sought.

The course includes three parts. The first part engages with the health capability model. The second part examines the health capability profile. The third part explores health capability applications. Twin goals of the course include cultivating the development of students’ knowledge base, values and competencies as well as aiding students in identifying, assessing and expanding their own health capabilities for individual and community health and flourishing.

Example Syllabus [PDF]

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