Social, Political, and Economic Factors that affect Disease

By: Sara Chavarria

Time: 50 minutes
Make photocopies of Handout 1 for each student.
Make an Overhead copy of Handout 1 for each class.
Print Handout Key for teacher.
Materials: Handout 1 – Note taking SPE and Disease
Overhead 1 – SPE and Disease
Handout 1 Key – SPE and Disease


During this lesson students make an association among the reasons for diseases explored in lesson 2 with social, political, and economic factors. It will be necessary for students to understand this connection once again to better understand the historical presence of epidemics. In doing so they can better address the questions of: 1) Why did this happen at this time in history? and 2) How did these epidemics happen?

Students will be able to:
1. Analyze and predict social, political, and economic reactions to the ‘reasons’ diseases become epidemic and share their analysis in discussion and a chart.

Historical Thinking Standards

  • 3E – Analyze cause-and-effect relationships and multiple causations, including the importance of the individual, the influence of ideas, and the role of chance.
  • 3J – Hypothesize the influence of the past.
  • 4A – Formulate Historical questions.
  • 5A- Identify issues and problems from the past.

Teacher Background



1. Setting the stage. Re-visit what Social, Political, and Economic means in association to Human activity. This is a review of knowledge already addressed in the 1st quarter. If you have not addressed this earlier, take a little longer to address this with the students as it is a central feature in many of the social studies lessons. Ask students to write down the three words in their notes and to define them. (5 minutes)


2. Give each student a handout. Review that the list of reasons are the same as discussed in
Lesson 2.

3. Demonstrate what they will have to do by discussing what the first response would be (see answer key to help you).

4. Have them work in pairs to fill out Columns 2 and 3. (5-10 minutes)

5. Once finished with the chart, have the class share their answers and why they chose the factor they did for each.

6. As they share answers write down the better responses on Overhead 1 and have them add them to their notes (if they have not already done so). Make sure that they can convince you of their choice otherwise the answer cannot be accepted.

7. Closure. “You are now ready to explore the first incident in history cited in Lesson 1: The 14th century in Europe (1347 – 1351) and the Black Death (Plague) that is estimated to have killed roughly 75 million people in Europe, Asia, and Africa. You will begin your investigation by posing the 2 leading questions: 1) Why did the Black Death happen at this time in history in Europe, Asia, and Africa? and 2) How did this epidemic that killed so many happen in the first place?"

Embedded Assessment
1. Students’ ability to analyze and predict social, economic and political factors involved in the spread of diseases can be assessed during class discussion, in the responses they provide in the chart, and in their defense of their responses.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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