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Professor Vernellia Randall
The University of Dayton School of Law 



This course was offered between 2007 through 2012 when I retired. 

Course Overview

What does social policy have to do with health?

Decisions that governments and corporations make every day benefit some and burden others. Unfortunately, they often reinforce class, racial and gender inequities that contribute to unequal patterns of illness and premature death. Building a social movement that can advocate effectively for more equitable social policies is critical to changing our economic, physical and social environments so that they promote rather than threaten our health.

In other words, tackling health inequities is unavoidably a matter of politics; of engaging in struggles over how we want our government to allocate resources, regulate corporate power, and implement the principles of democracy. It is also a matter of empowering communities and reshaping institutions to address the social and economic conditions that profoundly shape our health.

Tony Iton, MD, director of the Alameda County Public Health Department in California, points out that social policies that produce and reproduce socioeconomic and racial inequality have, over time, “taken many forms, including racially restrictive covenants on property, economic redlining in banking practices, school segregation, [unfair] housing and urban renewal policies, disinvestment in public transportation, discriminatory zoning practices, law enforcement racial profiling, [discriminatory] incarceration policies, and other deliberate governmental policies and practices.” But we’ve also made many changes during the last century that have improved health equity by improving peoples’ lives: the eight-hour work day, universal public high school, the right to collective bargaining, social security, civil rights, environmental standards... There’s no reason why we can’t do so again.

Opportunities for change abound. Iton and others suggest a wide range of tangible policy options, including quality universal preschool, improved public school funding, living wage laws, affordable housing, zoning reform, improved public transit, fair immigration policies, criminal justice reform, and, of course, full employment, fair trade and even progressive tax policy.

Health Policy is Law 

Produced by California Newsreel with Vital Pictures. Presented by the National Minority Consortia. Public Engagement Campaign in Association with the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies Health Policy Institute  

Philosophy of Teaching

How one teaches is necessarily influenced by what one perceives as the goals of legal education. Certainly, the primary goal is to prepare you to be effective lawyers, judges and policy makers. At a minimum, that includes helping you to develop the ability to:   think critically, precisely, and clearly;  express yourself succinctly;   understand the expressions of others; particularly those who are different than yourself;   understand human nature, particularly the motivations and needs of your clients, opponents, jurors, judges, etc.; and   use the techniques of the legal profession to represent a client in general matters, to recognize where you lack competence, and to comply with accepted ethical standards. While it is hardly arguable that preparing you to be an effective lawyer is an important goal, it is not the only one. Many of you will be law makers and policy makers, thus training you to understand the values implicit in the law is an important goal. Another important goal is to train you to address in a systematic manner your social responsibilities as an individual lawyer and your collective responsibilities as a member of the bar. This includes your responsibility to assist your community in maintaining an accessible, effective and socially responsible legal system. 

Thus, my objective is to help you continue the process of meeting those goals. The primary focus of my teaching method is to provide you an educationally sound introduction to the health care system and health disparities and the law. Furthermore, given the impact race and gender have on the law (and vice versa) my approach to teaching is to explicitly explore race and gender as a component of health care delivery and law-making.   


A. Teaching Objective #1: Educationally Sound Pedagogy

An educationally sound legal pedagogy is a philosophy of legal education which is grounded in known educational theory. To be so grounded, an educationally sound legal pedagogy: trains you to solve legal problems by providing you with working program for solving problems;  provides you with the opportunity to excel. provides you with criteria for  what it is you need to do to excel and specifically the progress you are making; provides you with the opportunity to practice each new skill throughout the learning process; and,  provides you with adequate instruction on how to study for law school and this course. Thus, it is my goal, through an educationally sound pedagogy, to provide you with an opportunity to learn and to excel. 


B. Teaching Objective #2: Health Disparities and the Law Teaching Objectives

Health care law teaching objectives are those objectives that relate directly to the substantive area of the law. They can be divided into two categories: knowledge and skills/abilities. The objectives of this course are:    

to increase understanding of socioeconomic and racial/ethnic inequities in health and their human and financial costs;

to understand  the various ways in which class, racism and disempowerment influence health outcomes;

 to Illustrate how well-being is not just a matter of making good choices and having access to quality care; that health outcomes are inextricably linked - for better and worse - to social conditions;

 Demonstrate that health inequities everyone.

 Move health discussions "upstream" - beyond the individual-focused "repair shop" model of disease and illness to a preventive approach that looks to change the underlying conditions that shape whole group outcomes;

Link health discussions to social, economic and legal policies - e.g., housing, racism, education, jobs and wages, community development, social supports and tax policy. Evaluate social, economic and legal policies by their health impact

Analyze health policy solutions for effectiveness for health equity  


C. Teaching Objectives #3: Diversity-Conscious Legal Pedagogy

Class, disability, gender, race and sexual preference issues are such an integral part of our society (and the legal profession) that we often overlook how the law affects individuals with different backgrounds differently. In a diverse society, such as ours, awareness of how different class, disability, gender race and sexual preference are effected differently by the law is essential. This is true whether the person is a defendant, plaintiff, lawyer, juror, judge or law student. Diversity awareness should be a normative part of the value system of the practicing attorney. An education which is aware of diversity:  explores how racial, ethnic, gender, class, disability, cultural and sexual orientation are related to and impacted by the structure of law. In particular, it illuminates the connection between racial and gender issues and the values, interests, rules and theories that appear to be neutral but, are in fact a representation of the values of the dominant culture.  broadly frames classroom discussion so that we step outside the doctrinal bounds of the law to critique the rules, the health care system and legal practice; and, focuses discussion on health care problems, interests and values that reflect a broad range of perspectives.



Course Outline


1 Understand Health,

2 Health Disparities and Social Determinants of Health 

3 the Role of the Law in Health Policy

4 Income and Wealth Inequalities

5 Racial Inequalities

6 Physical and Built Environment

7 Health Care Disparities

8 Pulling it together



Teaching Methods


Learning in law school is essentially self-directed. Most of your learning will happen outside of the classroom and independently of myself or any other professor. In fact, many professors, (myself included) will test you on significantly more than can ever be covered in class. My role is to structure my course in such a way as to facilitate your self-directed learning. I do that through the following: detailed syllabus, assigned readings and problems and problem-based and collaborative learning.   A. Detailed Syllabus The syllabus for this course consist of this web page and connected web pages. The syllabus is an important study tool. It provides you with specific guidelines as to my expectations regarding what you should learn, what skills and understanding I value and how I organize the content of the course.  However, the syllabus is not a contract and I retain the right to modify it at my discretion.   

I do not generally engage in strict lecturing - if this is your preferred method of learning you will be unhappy in this course.  If you prefer lecturing please consider taking this course from another professor.


B. Assignments consist of both readings and problems. The assigned reading provides you with the opportunity not only to obtain rule and process information.  The assigned readings serve as a basis for solving problems. It is my expectation that you will be thoroughly familiar with the assignment and completely prepared for class participation. 

C. Classroom Instruction

My classroom instruction is both similar to and different from traditional law school teaching. It is similar in that I use large group discussion and questioning to explore the problems. However, unlike other class the discussion is focused on problem-solving not on case analysis. Of course, we will be reading cases but cases are only one tool for problem solving.



Evaluation and Grading


Your grade in the course will be based on:     

Class Participation  25 pts

Online Participation (Moodle) 25 pts

Annotated Bibliography on a Health Policy Strategy for Eliminating Racial Health Disparities 50 pts     


In-Class Participation   

This is a cooperative participatory learning class. That means that your absence effects the learning of others. Consequently, missing classes significantly affects your grade. 

In general, missing more than 3 classes will significantly effect your class participation grade.  However, class participation means more than showing up for class. Class participation includes actively participating in class including being adequately prepared.

           Attendance is required.  Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class hour.  Students who are not seated and prepared to begin class when attendance is taken will be counted as tardy. A tardy counts as an absence.  

          "Excused absence" shall mean documented illness of self, documented illness of child, school-sponsored participation in competitions, or a family emergency. "Family Emergency" is limited to death or catastrophic occurrence affecting the student's immediate family or closely-extended family.  Flat tires and similar automotive failures, computer problems, speeding tickets, work, interviews, court dates, etc. are per se unexcused absences.   

      Class Participation requires presence  during the entire class period.  Students should not leave the classroom once class has begun except in emergencies.

        Class Participation  requires attention.  Students should refrain from engaging in activities that are disruptive to the class.  Professional conduct requires that students refrain from eating, talking or laughing while others are speaking, passing notes, playing games, reading newspapers, or in any other manner disrupting the educational process by being rude or inattentive.  Students acting in an unprofessional manner will be asked to leave the classroom and will be counted absent for that class. During small group, simulations and large group discussion all computers should be closed. When laptop use is permitted, the only permissible use is note-taking Surfing the web is by definition NOT paying attention.   You may not use Blackberries, Treos, mobile phones, and other handheld devices.  You must turn off such devices before coming to class.  If your cell phone rings during class you will be asked to leave and the day will be count as an absence.

      Class Participation requires preparation.  Occasional inability to complete the assignments is understandable. Missing more than 3 problems will affect your problem grade. If you are not prepared for class by having your problem completed before class, your class participation grade will be considered unprepared.  

Daily class participation grade will be evaluated based on a combination of

your self evaluation my evaluation  and other student evaluations or Karma Points.


Karma Points - Class Participation


You may award up to 6 Karma Points to other students whose participation you believe was exceptional. You may not trade points or negotiate points.

You may not award points to yourself.

Only award points if you feel the person has significantly contributed to the discussion.

Award Karma points based on the quality of the participation, irrespective of the content, award points for exceptional participation even if you do not necessarily agree with the ideas presented.

Do not award points unless you believe the students participation was exceptional.  However, don’t be stingy awarding points.


Karma Points - 1 point Award Succinct, interesting, original, and well-documented argument or idea, or provide useful analysis or pertinent facts or law.  

Karma Points - 2 point Award Creative and Original, and compelling contribution, argues clear points; Supported contribution with evidence, good analysis.

Karma Points - 3 point Award Exceptional contribution to the discourse, one that really open eyes and encouraged lively discussion/debate. Exemplary in all respects.

Ways to Improve Chances of Receiving Karma Points

Choose provocative positions in class or subject lines to make your postings stand out. Present your own perspectives Write  and speak clearly. Construct an argument. Provide evidence, present a rationale that supports your positions, and reference the opinions of others, linking to supplementary evidence when appropriate and reading assignment Open up debate by remembering that the best response is one that gets people thinking, and that makes them want to reply. Learn from others by listening carefully and referring to appropriate comments of others in the class in your own. 


Online Participation (Moodle) 25 ptsThis course has an online component.

 Participation on Moodle is integral part of this class.  Any questions about the course should be posted under "Student FAQ".

Your online participation will be evaluated on your participation in the discussion forum, your completion of glossary entries, and your weekly reflection.

Moodle has many ways for me to evaluate your participation. For instance, I can determine the number of primary discussion postings, the number of secondary forum postings, the postings read, etc.  If a person tries to game the system, ie repeatedly viewing the same postings, I can determine that and the person will be penalized.


The guidelines for

the discussion forums, the glossaries, and the weekly reflection are below  

Discussion Forums Each week there will be one or more discussion forums. For each forum, you should post one substantive, reflective comment about the reading, the video or answer the question posed.  In doing your reflection, ask what are the larger policy implication for communities? States? Federal Government?  What are the diversity issues involved?

The reflection should add your own thoughts and analysis to what you have read, saw or head. Do NOT merely summarize the readings or videos - I already know what the content. You don’t need to regurgitate it back. What you SHOULD do is use the readings or videos as a “jumping off” point to write on your thoughts on some point in the the reading.  Discussion forum postings will be based on whether your postings tended to:

 identify important points, clarify difficult concepts, and  generally try to facilitate each others understanding.

A  grade of (80% or better)  for the discussion forum requires that you

do an initial posting of 150 - 200 words in each forum read 80% of the other postings for the forum in your group during the week of the readings and provide at least one comment/critique to at least TWO different person's inital postings. reference readings or videos where appropriate but no citations

You may of course continue the discussion as long as you feel appropriate or need to within reason.

You should also post information or news about remedies.


Glossaries Each week there will be at least one glossary to be completed.  You should include terms, concepts and ideas related to health disparities. 

Each week you should identify at least one term, concept or idead and define or explain it.

You should read and rate all the terms.  You should rate the terms on a scale of 1 to 5.


You should provide written comment on at least one.

The definitions CANNOT be copied from the book but should be in your own words.  Examples and Hypos can be included. where appropriate.  As you study and gain better understanding you should feel free to up-date your postings.  

Weekly Reflections  

Think about the past week, what is the most important thing you learned? Why? Be thoughtful. Be reflective. Be specific. How will what you learn help you be a better lawyer?


(at least 150 words - indicate the TOTAL word count at the end of the the first reflection question.)


General Guidelines  (Subject to modification without notice)

 Writing a post includes posting an original post and/or responding to one.  Responding to a post does not count as much as posting an original one. The post must be substantial. Superficial, agree or disagree post or discounted or not counted at all. I will delete post that appear duplicate and superficial. If I notice a pattern of behavior it will affect your moodle grade You earn points for reading a post, but the number of points count as a lower percentage of the total score than if you write or respond to a post Moodle activity is always evaluated in the week of assignment.  So, for example, the only Moodle activity that will count in an upcoming week will be that which occurs in that week.  And, to a lesser value, in the In The News Section. except if a conversation continues to be active those conversations will be counted. Specifically, back reading old post will not count. Posting, responding, and reading posts in the In The News section always counts less than activity in the section currently assigned. Quantity counts, that is, of the students who are posting similar quality posting, the person with the most postings and who has read the most will get a higher raw score. Quality counts. that is students will be rewarded for posting thoughtful on point posting. Cutting and pasting articles do not count even if you add a short statement. Summarize the relevant content, provide a link and then discuss your reaction to the article.


Online Discussion Rubric

  4  Outstanding!
3 Way to go!
2  Good job!
1- Needs Improvement.

Scope of Postings Student consistently identifies important points; clarifies difficult concepts, and frequently  tried to facilitate others understanding; made significant postings about  information or news about professional responsibility, particular diversity issues

Student generally identifies important points; occasionally clarifies difficult concepts, and generally tried to facilitate others understanding; made occassional post information or news about professional responsibility, particular diversity issues Student generally identifies important points; clarifies difficult concepts, and generally tried to facilitate others understanding; post information or news about professional responsibility, particular diversity issues

Student occassionaly identifies important points; clarifies difficult concepts, and generally tried to facilitate others understanding; post information or news about professional responsibility, particular diversity issues Preparedness Participant is engaged in the class discussion at least three times a week and often references the reading materials and comments of others in a specific and thoughtful way; Shows a clear understanding of the topics under discussion. Provides support from personal experience. 

Participant is engaged in the class discussion at least twice a week and occasionally references the reading materials and comments of others in a specific and thoughtful way; Shows a good understanding of the topics under discussion. Provides some support from personal experience. Participant is engaged in the class discussion at least once a week, but rarely references the reading materials and comments of others in a specific and thoughtful way; Shows a basic understanding of topics under discussion. Provides little support from personal experience. Either does not engage in the class discussion  OR does not reference the reading materials and comments of others in a specific and thoughtful way; Shows no understanding of topics. Provides no support from personal experience. Discussion & Brainstorming Contributes many useful ideas that demonstrate connections between the assignment and the class which required thoughtful efforts. Contributes limited ideas that demonstrate connections between the assignment and the class which demonstrated thoughtful efforts. Contributes an idea that demonstrates a connection between the assignment and the class but required little thoughtful effort. Contributes no ideas that demonstrate connections between the assignment and the class and/ or showed little or no effort in composing the thread. Respectful Communication Responded in a respectful fashion to all peers. If disagreeing with another group members' ideas, the student stated his or her disagreement or objections clearly, yet politely;  Postings and replies are professional in nature and support the learning environment by being related to the thread and using positive language. Responded in a respectful fashion to most peers. Student stated any disagreements politely; Postings and replies are professional in nature and while supportive of the learning environment may occasionally be tangental to the discussion in a distractionary manner. Responded in a disrespectful way to some peers. Stated some disagreements in a politely; Postings and replies show a lack of professionalism through frequent mechanical errors, distracting the flow of conversation, or communicating in a critical manner The participant was rude or abusive to other course participants; Postings and replies show a disregard for clear communication or the need to be supportive to classmates. Organization Student's original posting is cleary understood. Student's original posting is mostly understood. Student's original posting is difficult to understand. Student's original posting does not make sense.


 Annotated Bibliography on a Health Policy Strategy for Eliminating Racial Health Disparities

You should select one of the following health policy areas:

Income and Wealth Inequalities Physical and Built Environment Racial Inequalities Education Sustainable Transportation Conditions for Children Working Conditions Food Security

After selecting a health policy area, select at least one strategy that you believe must be implement. Conduct research on that strategy and write an annotated bibliography.

 The bibliography must contain at least 6 sources (minimum to receive any credit). 

For each policy area there must be:

one sources from non-legal interdisciplinary sources two sources law review articles. one source that address  diversity issue such as race, ethnicity, gender, class,  disability, religion, or sexual orientation. 

 News articles, articles from popular press and websites,  Do NOT count  toward the minimum number of sources although I do encourage you to include them and will take them into consideration with considering the grade for the annotated bibliography.  

Your annotated bibliography must include relevant primary sources on laws and statutes and regulations and cases. To the extent that relevant law is not available you should note that in your introduction.

Your annotated bibliography should be organized using the following headings as appropriate:

Introduction (at least 1000 words) Bibliography (listing of citations) Annotations Federal Law Constitution Statutes Regulations Cases State Law Constitution Statutes Regulations Cases Law Review Articles and Book Chapters Interdisciplinary Articles and Book Chapters Other (News articles, popular press and website)

Your annotated bibliography should have introduction which gives an overview of the topic or issue including a summary of some of the key issues, recommendations and your personal views on the topic. Your introduction should be at least 1000 words.

For each reading, your annotation should include: citation, description, critical comment and total number of pages read. Your citation should be in bluebook format  except do not use abbreviations. Each annotation should be between 200 to 300 words . It should include a synopsis of the author's primary arguments and a critique of those arguments. It should include whether the source contains a bibliography. Be aware simply paraphrasing the article is consider plagiarism and will result in a failing grade for the course. Your annotations should be your summary in your own words.

The grade earned will be based on the:

quantity of readings  the relevancy of the readings to your topic the comprehensiveness of your cites (such statutes, cases, law review) the quality of your annotations


PLEASE NOTE: The final annotation will be published on this website as a resource for health disparities activist. Last Updated:  12/27/2009 You are visitor number: Hit Counter






Randall, Dying While Black (2006)

Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care, 2003 978-0309085322; Available online free at


Academic Accommodations  

Law students wishing to request a disability-related accommodation must submit the request in writing to Brenda Cooper, Program Coordinator: Disability Services for the University's Learning Enhancement & Academic Development (LEAD) Office, (937) 229-2066 located in the Ryan C. Harris Learning Teaching Center, LTC 023 and provide a copy of the request to Dean Lori Shaw, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs.  

If you have secured a current Self-Identification Form indicating you have a disability which requires academic accommodations, please present the Self-Identification Form to me so I will be able to provide the appropriate accommodation needed in this class.


Professor Randall's Note:

As a person with a learning disability, I know how tempting it is to say that you don't need accommodations. In fact, in undergraduate school, you may have gotten few, if any.  The difference between undergraduate school and law school is that in undergraduate school it is very easy to self-accommodate by the courses you take and the load you carry. There is no such leave way in law school. It is impossible to self-accommodate. I know many students who say that they want to try it without accommodations. The problem is that by the time you figure out it is not working you have, at best, lost most of the semester and at worst have already done poorly on exams.

My advice, whether you have a learning, physical or emotional disability, take the accommodations you are entitled to. If you feel after doing the semester with accommodations that you didn't need them then drop them.

One final note, whether you are granted accommodations on the bar can be dependent in large part on whether you had accommodations in law school.

I have assisted numerous students with disabilities please feel free to talk with me.