Rebecca Stein
Rebecca Stein
Associate Professor of Anthropology
Los Angeles Valley College

Introduction Letter – Online Course

Anthropology 141 – Fall 2010

Welcome to Anthropology 141 online!

The following is information to help you succeed in this class. Please read it carefully and feel free to email me (Rebecca Stein - if you have any questions.

What you should know about the content of the class

This course presents an anthropological look at the concepts of health, illness and healing in different cultures. Medical systems are a part of the culture of any society and as such affect and are affected by other aspects of culture, including social, religious, technological and political systems. Our goal in this course is to recognize these relationships and the function of medicine as a cultural system of meaning. Through a survey of medical systems in a variety of cultures, we will try to appreciate the diverse ways the topics of health and illness can be approached. In this is included looking at our own society with fresh eyes and appreciating the cultural and ritual aspects of our own health system.

Topics in this course include:

  1. Evolutionary approaches to health and disease
  2. Cultural and political ecology
  3. Plagues and epidemics
  4. Culture, nutrition and malnutrition
  5. Gender and women’s health issues
  6. Belief and ethnomedical systems
  7. Alternative and complementary medicine
  8. Religion, health and illness
  9. Healers in cross-cultural perspective
  10. Culture and mental health/illness
  11. Chronic illness and stigma
  12. Aging, dying and death
  13. Medical ethics
  14. Ethnicity and healthcare in the U.S.

What you should know about the structure of the class

  1. The class is entirely on-line – there are no required on-campus meetings.
  2. The class will be available the first day of the semester through the ETUDES-NG website. A link to the website and information on how to figure out your username and password can be found at:
  3. This class proceeds at the same pace as the in-person sections. You will need to log on several times every week. Content and assignments will open and close on specified dates – you can’t do it all the last week.
  4. An online class is not any easier nor does it take any less time than the in-person version. You need to have the time and be self-motivated and self-disciplined to succeed. If you are not sure if an online class is really for you, take the quizzes at:
  5. To help prepare for taking an online class, go through the Virtual Valley self-paced Online Learning Success Tutorial ( and the Using ETUDES tutorial (
  6. Due to the nature of the online environment, there will be a lot of reading and writing involved in this class.
  7. You do need to have the books – Dancing Skeletons by Katherine Dettwyler (ISBN 088133748X) and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (ISBN 0374525641).

What you need to do:

  1. Make sure that you have easy and reliable internet access.
  2. Check to make sure that your computer system is adequate, that you have all the needed software and that your cache settings are correct ( and
  3. Have a back-up computer (such as the computer labs on campus) in case of problems. Technical difficulties will not be an acceptable excuse for late or missed work.
  4. Get help from the ETUDES help desk if you need it:
  5. Have a working email address that you check regularly.
  6. Log on and post your introduction before the end of the first week of classes (if you do not do so, I will drop you from the class as a “no show”).
  7. Log on several times a week after that.
  8. Read all of the content materials, complete the assignments and participate in the discussions.
  9. Ask questions whenever you have them.
  10. Learn some new interesting, fun and useful (honest!) things!

How to contact me

I look forward to meeting you all in the discussion forums online during the first week of classes. If you need to contact me before then (or during the class), my email address is During the class, the best way to reach me is by leaving me a private message in ETUDES.

My campus phone number is 818-947-2538 and if you are on campus, my office is in AH&S 305.

Copyright (c) 2008 Rebecca Stein
All rights reserved.