Infusing a social justice perspective on health - Dr. Amy Finnegan

March 14, 2018
Amy Finnegan headshot

Dr. Amy Finnegan is Assistant Professor and Chair of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas and Co-Director of SocMed, a social justice organization seeking to expand the conversation on and engagement with the social determinants of health through education and movement building. She is a sociologist, educator, and activist who is particularly keen on building spaces and opportunities for constructive dialogue across divergent perspectives. Dr. Finnegan studies social movements and social change, peace and conflict dynamics, and global health with many years of experience in northern Uganda. She holds a PhD in Sociology from Boston College, an MA from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and a BA in Political Science and Spanish from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Dr. Finnegan teaches “Global Health in Uganda and Rwanda: Towards Analysis, Equity, and Action in Social Medicine”—a study abroad opportunity for SMDS minors. This class is focused on the social determinants of health and health equity – infusing a social justice perspective on health. The course is run through UMAIE and SocMed. In Uganda/Rwanda, US students join students from Uganda, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. Together, they form the learning community for the course. The course is an excellent fit for pre-health professionals and serves as a SMDS elective.

Dr. Finnegan also regularly teaches  a special section of Introduction to Sociology focused on infusing a sociological perspective to health and medicine.  While the course is open to anyone, it is of special interest to pre-health professionals and those who plan to take the MCAT exam for admission into medical school, which now includes a section with sociology. The course counts as a SMDS elective and fulfills the Social Analysis and Human Diversity requirements in the core curriculum. The course has a strong community-engagement component with opportunities to learn how society influences health at the Center for International Health, a primary care clinic for refugees in St. Paul, and Open Arms of Minnesota, a social service organization that prepares and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening and chronic illness.