Understanding health disparities involves a critical analysis of historical, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental conditions that have produced an inequitable health status for racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. While we also recognize that disparities exist along socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation and other factors, this class will focus on disparities in racial and ethnic minority communities. Issues of gender, SES and other factors will be examined as they intersect race and ethnicity, and further influence disparities in health. Minority health and health disparities have gained considerable attention from the recent publication of Healthy People 2010 Report, which lists as its two goals: 1) improve the quality of life for all citizens, and 2) eliminate health disparities. The purpose of this class is to introduce basic issues that underlie health disparities. We will gain a better understanding of the relationships of social and environmental phenomena and the health of minority communities. This course will include current literature and foster discussions that will examine health disparities, explore social and environmental determinants of those disparities, critically review measurement issues, and determine public health's response to these disparities. Students should seek to critically reflect on their personal and professional roles in eliminating health disparities.