Students interested in an interdisciplinary approach to health and illness find themselves taking courses across campus: in Anthropology, they read ethnographies that reveal cross-cultural variation in conceptions of well-being and health norms and attend to the power dynamics implicit in health systems and new technologies for intervention and screening; in Demography, they study the statistical variation across time and space of measurable indicators of health and well-being; in Sociology, they seek to understand the manifold social determinants of health and illness; in Economics and Public Policy, students learn how to assess the incentive structure of different health care systems; in Public Health and in the College of Natural Resources, they explore the policy effectiveness of various public health campaigns to improve health; and in Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology, students garner crucial scientific knowledge about the human body. Students may also be interested in philosophical and political questions about access to health care and a society's responsibility to ensure the basic health of all its members.
ISF is a unique major that allows students to tap the many courses taught across departments at Cal relevant to health and illness. ISF students have been as interested in the study of health across the advanced capitalist nations as they have been in the health challenges faced by poorer nations. ISF students often go on to careers in health care management, public health, public policy, and medicine.