SMC Global Citizenship

Santa Monica College promotes global citizenship—developing, sharing, and using inter-cultural understanding to foster a more livable, sustainable world. Visit for more details.
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Posts tagged "health"

In light of our annual themes from last year and this year, perhaps we should caption this image: “The Unhappy Meal”.


A Fast Food Burger Is 3 Times Larger Now Than in The 1950s

Research has shown that the bigger your plate, the likelier it is you’ll overeat. The same logic may apply to fast food, where according to a new infographic by the Centers for Disease Control, portion sizes for popular items have increased dramatically since the 1950s.

Read more. [Image: CDC]

The Atlantic’s Tumblr today has two posts directly relevant to our annual global citizenship themes at SMC. Here is the first: a look at happiness, what it is, how we get it, and how it is linked more broadly to our overall health.


What We Know Now About How to Be Happy

Are “happy” people set up differently to begin with? For example, their physiologies seem to be different from those of less happy people, with lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, reduced inflammatory biomarkers, and even changes in the wiring of the brain. All of these differences might make happy people better able to deal with the adverse events that life throws at them, and less likely to feel the effects of stress, which takes a toll on everybody’s health. The happiness-health relationship is at the very least a two-way street.

But what is happiness in the first place? Is it about seeking out activities that make us feel good - indulging a fancy car or going out for a satisfying dinner - or does it have to do with a deeper sense of personal satisfaction over the course of a lifetime?

Read more. [Image: skippyjon/Flickr]

The USA spends a lot of money on health care. A lot. Why, then, aren’t we healthier? Perhaps it’s as simple as flipping around the cause and effect; we spend a lot on health care precisely because we aren’t very healthy—sick people tend to visit the doctor more frequently than healthy people. This still leaves unanswered the question of why our national affluence doesn’t yield greater national health. How can we be more like our global peers, and spend less and live longer?


10 Ways to Visualize How Americans Spend Money on Health Care

1) U.S. Against the World: Spending vs. Life Expectancy

We spend much, much more per person than the rest of the world … but we don’t live much longer than some eastern European countries that spend much less than us. As a result, when you plot the United States against similarly advanced countries based on life expectancy and medical spending, we’re all alone on our little island.

Click through for more.

Shyness and introversion share an undervalued status in a world that prizes extroversion. Children’s classroom desks are now often arranged in pods, because group participation supposedly leads to better learning … Many adults work for organizations that now assign work in teams, in offices without walls, for supervisors who value ‘people skills’ above all. As a society, we prefer action to contemplation, risk-taking to heed-taking, certainty to doubt.

From Susan Cain’s June 26 New York Times opinion piece, “Shyness: Evolutionary Tactic?

Is shyness/introversion a sign of lesser psychological health? If the answer to that question is “not necessarily,” as most would probably argue, then at what point does an introverted personality become a mental illness, or at least a diagnosable “disorder” such as S.A.D.? And how does introversion impact questions of happiness? Do our definitions of happiness discount shy attitudes and behaviors; do we define as “sad” people who merely are introverted? Lots of questions for us to chew on as we embark in 2011–12 on our year-long examination of Health, Wellness, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Finally, Susan Cain also reminds us in this piece that diversity—which is celebrated by just about any definition of global citizenship—is a concept with psychological dimensions as well as cultural and socio-economic.


Daily chart: who spends the most on the military? America’s defence spending, at nearly $700 billion a year, is bigger than that of the next 17 countries combined.

US military spending truly is in a league of its own. The other area in which this is the case? Healthcare. Whether or not we get justifiable returns for our military spending is open for debate, but it’s clear that in terms of healthcare, we’re falling short. At least in terms of life expectancy, only HIV-riddled southern Africa gets less bang for their healthcare buck than we do here in the United States.

international scatterplot comparing life expectancy to per capita healthcare spending

source: UC Atlas of Global Inequality

(via thenewrepublic)

… Health, Wellness, and the Pursuit of Happiness! From a list of seven nominated choices, this was chosen by an online vote of Santa Monica College students, faculty, and staff to be our annual Global Citizenship theme for 2011–12.

As with our first two annual themes, Water and Food, we’ll explore the overlapping issues of health, wellness, and happiness through a variety of curricular and extracurricular activities. In addition to our already existing online presence at Twitter, Facebook, and the SMC website, this new Tumblr site gives us a virtual space in which to share and discuss ideas.

To get us started thinking about the academic year ahead as we ease into the summer break, here is how we have initially set up our theme:

Health is a centerpiece of the United Nationsʼ efforts to promote human development, and modern society has made profound strides in fighting infectious disease and raising life expectancies around the world. Yet we still find the provision of care and the promotion of healthy living to be a perennial challenge, one that knows no boundaries but nonetheless reveals gaping inequities within and between countries worldwide. Moreover, even when physically healthy, we struggle to feel truly well; despite living (on average) longer and more comfortable lives than countless generations of human beings before us, a true sense of happiness and well-being often eludes us. What does it mean to be healthy? What does it mean to be happy? And how can we get there?

In addition to this prompt, here is just a small sample of the rapidly growing collection of articles and resources online concerning the question of happiness and well-being. Follow us on Tumblr as we will be adding to this list throughout the year ahead.