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2020-2021 Course Descriptions

GBL_HLTH 301: Introduction to International Public Health 

This course introduces students to pressing disease and health care problems worldwide and examines efforts currently underway to address them. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the course identifies the main actors, institutions, practices and forms of knowledge production characteristic of what we call "global health" today, and explores the environmental, social, political and economic factors that shape patterns and experiences of illness and healthcare across societies. We will scrutinize the value systems that underpin specific paradigms in the policy and science of global health and place present-day developments in historical perspective. Key topics will include: policies and approaches to global health governance and interventions, global economies and their impacts on public health, medical humanitarianism, global mental health, maternal and child health, pandemics (HIV/AIDS, Ebola, H1N1, Swine Flu), malaria, food insecurity, health and human rights, and global health ethics.

GBL_HLTH 302: Global Bioethics

Global health is a popular field of work and study for Americans, with an increasing number of medical trainees and practitioners, as well as people without medical training, going abroad to volunteer in areas where there are few health care practitioners or resources. In addition, college undergraduates, as well as medical trainees and practitioners, are going abroad in increasing numbers to conduct research in areas with few healthcare resources. But all of these endeavors, though often entered into with the best of intentions, are beset with ethical questions, concerns, and dilemmas, and can have unintended consequences. In this course, students will explore and consider these ethical challenges. In so doing, students will examine core global bioethical concerns – such as structural violence – and core global bioethical codes, guidelines, and principals – such as beneficence and solidarity – so they will be able to ethically assess global health practices in a way that places an emphasis on the central goal of global health: reducing health inequities and disparities. With an emphasis on the ethical responsibility to reduce disparities, we consider some of the most pressing global bioethical issues of our time: equity, fairness, and climate change. Particular attention is given to the ethics of research during a pandemic and access to vaccines and therapies for Covid-19. 
Fulfills Area V (Ethics and Values) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 309: Biomedicine and World History

This lecture course uses the Covid-19 pandemic – including its socio-economic and racial dimensions – as a point of departure to study the history of global health and biomedicine in comparative terms. We will break up the quarter into four segments during which we will consider: 1) when and why infectious diseases “unified” the globe and with what consequences; 2) how empires, industries, war, and revolutions helped spread biomedical ideas, experts, and tools around the world; 3) what function institutions of transnational and global health governance have played in setting medical priorities and sustaining health norms across continents; and 4) why and how clinical trials, the pharmaceutical industry, and narcotics have become so intimately intertwined. Because the world around us has already been radically altered by SARS-coV-2, you will have an opportunity to place in historical context this pandemic’s roots and its ongoing cycles. You will also be given a chance to apply insights from the readings – about histories of racial segregation, reproductive politics, militarization, and police powers – to this pandemic. Lectures and readings cover all world regions: Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, North America, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
Fulfills Area IV (Historical Studies) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 320: Qualitative Research Methods in Global Health

This course is designed to provide global health students with the tools they will need in order to design, revise, conduct, and write up current and future qualitative research projects relating to global health topics. This course is experientially driven, allowing students opportunities to actually "do" research, while providing careful mentoring and engaging in in-depth discussions about ethical and methodological issues associated with qualitative approaches and with working with living humans. Students will learn methods such as: writing research proposals, research ethics, writing ethnographic field notes, doing qualitative interviews and focus groups, analyzing and writing up data.
Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 321: War and Public Health

This course draws on perspectives from anthropology and related social scientific fields to provide a comparative overview of the impact of armed conflict on public health and health care systems worldwide. Drawing primarily on examples from recent history, including conflicts in the Balkans, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, we will explore warfare as a crucial sociopolitical determinant of global health disparities and consider organized efforts to respond to the health impacts of mass violence. Key topics that we will consider include variations in the relationship between warfare and public health across eras and cultures; the health and mental health impacts of forced displacement, military violence, and gender-based violence; and the role of medical humanitarianism and humanitarian psychiatry in postwar recovery processes. Through close readings of classic and contemporary social theory, ethnographic accounts, and diverse research on war, health, and postwar humanitarian interventions, this course will encourage you to build your own critical perspective on war and public health anchored in history and the complexities of real-world situations.
Fulfills Area V (Ethics and Values) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 322: The Social Determinants of Health

TThis upper-level seminar in medical anthropology examines the role of social markers of difference including race, class, nationality, gender, sexuality, age and religion in current debates and challenges in the theory and practice of global health. We will explore contemporary illness experiences and therapeutic interventions in sociocultural and historical context through case studies from the US, Brazil, and South Africa. Students will be introduced to key concepts such as embodiment, medicalization, structural violence, the social determinants of health, and biopolitics. Central questions of the seminar include: How do social categories of difference determine disease and health in individuals and collectivities? How is medical science influenced by economic and political institutions and by patient mobilization? How does social and economic inclusion/exclusion govern access to treatment as well as care of the self and others? The course will provide advanced instruction in anthropological and related social scientific research methods as they apply to questions of social inequality and public health policy in both the United States and in emerging economic powers. The course draws from historical accounts, contemporary ethnographies, public health literature, media reports, and films.
Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 324: Volunteerism and the Ethics of Help

Since the early 2000s, there has been an exponential increase in the number of foreigners volunteering in low-income communities, within orphanages, clinics, schools, and communities. This expansion has been echoed by locals, who are also providing voluntary labor in a variety of locales throughout their communities. This class explores the discourses and practices that make up volunteering and voluntourism, from the perspectives of volunteers, hosts, and a range of professional practitioners both promoting and critiquing this apparent rise in “the need to help”. What boons and burdens occur with the boom of volunteer fervor world-wide? Why do people feel the need to volunteer, and what consequences do these voluntary exchanges have on the volunteers, and on those communities and institutions that are subject to their good intentions? What are the ethics and values that make up “making a difference” amongst differently-situated players who are involved in volunteering? Given that volunteers often act upon best intentions, what are the logics that justify philanthropy and the differential standards by which volunteers are judged based on where they go and how they engage in volunteering? This class seeks out some answers to these questions, and highlights why the increased concern for strangers that undergirds volunteering should also be, in itself, cause for our concern. 
Fulfills Area V (Ethics and Values) distribution requirement


GBL_HLTH 325: History of Reproductive Health

The history of reproduction is a large subject, and during this course we will touch on many, but by no means all, of what can be considered as part of this history. Our focus will be on human reproduction, considering the vantage points of both healthcare practitioners and lay women and men. We will look at ideas concerning fertility, conception, pregnancy, miscarriage, childbirth, birth control, abortion, and assisted reproduction. Because, at a fundamental level, reproduction is about power - as historian Amy Kaler (but by no means only Kaler), pointed out, "[c]control over human reproduction is eternally contested, in zones ranging from the comparative privacy of the conjugal bedroom to the political platform and programs of national polities" - we will pay attention to power in reproductive health. And, since the distribution of power in matters of reproduction has often been uneven and unequal - between men and women, between colonizing and Indigenous populations, between clinicians and lay people, between those in upper socioeconomic classes and those in lower socioeconomic classes - we will pay particular attention during this class to struggles over matters of reproduction as we explore historical changes and continuities in reproduction globally since 1900.
Fulfills Area IV (Historical Studies) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Community Based Participatory Research

This course is an introduction to community-based participatory research (CBPR). The W.K. Kellogg Foundation states CBPR is a collaborative research approach that “begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities.” We will explore the historical and theoretical foundations, and the key principles of CBPR. Students will be introduced to methodological approaches to building community partnerships; community assessment; research planning; and data sharing. Real-world applications of CBPR in health will be studied to illustrate issues and challenges. Further, this course will address culturally appropriate interventions; working with diverse communities; and ethical considerations in CBPR.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic

This course is an inquiry into the current coronavirus (SARS-CoV2, Covid-19) epidemic, taken from multiple perspectives in public health and the social sciences. The course will consider the pandemic in real time, in the context of other disease outbreaks to learn what is different about this one, about its modes of transmission and its impact on individuals, communities, and nations. Applying public health research methods including epidemiology, outbreak investigation, and medical anthropology, we will examine several responses organized to combat the pandemic, in clinical sciences, community health, and supply operations and logistics. Finally, we will gain skills in locating and critically analyzing information. The foci are health outcomes and communities most impacted by the virus. Evaluation methods include weekly response papers, participation in discussion, and a final project. 

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Native American Health Research and Prevention

Native nations in what is currently the United States are continuously seeking to understanding and undertake the best approaches to research and prevention with their communities. This course introduces students to the benefits and barriers to various approaches to addressing negative health outcomes and harnessing positive social determinants of health influencing broader health status. Important concepts to guide our understanding of these issues will include settler colonialism, colonialism, sovereignty, social determinants of health, asset-based perspectives, and decolonizing research. Students will engage in a reading-intensive, discussion-based seminar, drawing upon research and scholarship from a variety of disciplines including public health, Native American and Indigenous Studies, anthropology, sociology, history, nursing, and medicine.  

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Global Health from Policy to Practice

This seminar explores global health and development policy ethnographically, from the politics of policy-making to the impacts of policy and on health practice, and on local realities both abroad and at home. Going beyond the intentions underlying policy, this course highlights the histories and material, political, and social realities of policy and its application. Drawing on case studies of policy makers, government officials, data collectors, health care workers, aid recipients, and patients, the course asks: how do politics inform which issues become prioritized or codified in health and development policy, and which do not? How do policies affect (global) health governance? In what ways are policies adapted, adopted, innovatively engaged, or outright rejected by various actors, and what does this mean for the challenges that such policies aim to address? Ultimately, what is the relationship between health policies and health disparities, abroad and at home?

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Medical Heroes and Villains

House. Grey’s Anatomy. The Constant Gardener. Frankenstein’s Monster. Paul Farmer. Josef Mengele. The Tuskeegee Trials. Healthcare workers, and physicians and nurses in particular, have long held sway in the popular imagination as both hero and villain. From biographies of real-life medical heroes and villains to fictional accounts in movies, novels, TV series, podcasts, and other media, medicine has long held sway in our popular imagination. What can we learn about the societal values we place on medicine (and medical personnel) by exploring the ways that medical heroes and villains are depicted to wide public audiences? What do these fictional and non-fictional accounts have to tell us about societal anxieties and ambiguities relating to medicine? How might we contemplate the ways societal norms relating to race, gender, place of origin, ability, and other identifiers become mapped onto the stories the public consumes relating to medicine? What can these stories tell us about anxieties regarding life and death, technology, science, and culture? Who is portrayed as hero, who as villain, who as victim and who as backdrop to the narrative? In this course, we will consume a wide array of popular media about medical heroes and villains, both fictional and non-fictional, in order to interrogate how medicine as a lens tells us about a wide array of societal ambiguities, potentialities, inequalities and silences.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Native Nations, Healthcare Systems, and U.S. Policy

Healthcare for Native populations, in the what is currently the U.S., are an entanglement of settler colonial domination and the active determination of Native nations to uphold their Indigenous sovereignty. This reading-intensive, discussion-based seminar will provide students with a complex and in-depth understanding of the historical and contemporary policies and systems created for and by Native nations. We will focus on the legal foundations of the trust responsibility and fiduciary obligation of the federal government outlined in the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court decisions. To gain a nuanced perspective, students will study notable federal policies including the Snyder Act, the Special Diabetes Programs for Indians, Violence Against Women Act, and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Additionally, state policy topics will include Medicaid expansion and tobacco cessation and prevention.