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2022-2023 Course Descriptions

GBL_HLTH 201: Introduction to Global 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 222: The Social Determinants of Health

This 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 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 307: International Perspectives on Mental Health

This course will explore issues of mental health in cross-cultural, perspective and examine the impact of psychological illness on the global burden of disease. Students explore the following questions: how do cultural systems of meaning and behavior affect the vulnerability of individuals within the population to mental illness and the mental illnesses to which they are vulnerable? How does culture influence the way that mental illness is expressed and experienced and how does this affect our ability to measure psychological illness cross-culturally? How do cultural factors affect the way that mental illnesses are diagnosed and labeled, and the degree to which they are stigmatized? And how do such factors affect our ability to create effective global health interventions? Finally, how do healing practices and the efficacy of particular treatments vary across cultures? We will examine these and related questions in the context of specific forms of psychological distress, including depression, trauma, dissociation and psychosis, using case studies from a range of cultural contexts including Brazil, Japan, India, China and the U.S.


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 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.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Hazards, Disasters, and Society

This course examines how socioeconomic and environmental factors work together to cause hazards and disasters in human society. In this course we learn the main concepts about disaster such as preparedness, vulnerability, resilience, response, mitigation, etc. We learn that a disaster does not have the same effect on everyone (all groups of people), and factors of social inequality such as race, ethnicity, class, and gender, make people more vulnerable to impacts of disasters. Also, this course, with an interdisciplinary perspective, analyzes disasters in the global North and South. This is a discussion-intensive course for advanced undergrad students. The classes are the student-centered with an emphasis on collaborative learning. The class meetings will consist of lecture, discussion, presentations, teamwork, activities, video/audio materials and projects. 

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Environmental Justice

This course examines how environmental problems reflect and exacerbate social inequality. In this course, we learn the definition of environmental (in)justice; the history of environmental justice; and also examples of environmental justice will be discussed. We will learn about environmental movements. This course has a critical perspective on health disparities in national and international levels. How environmental injustice impacts certain groups more than others and the social and political economic reasons for these injustices will be discussed in this course. This is a discussion-intensive course for advanced undergrad students. The classes are student-centered with an emphasis on collaborative learning. The class meetings will consist of lectures, discussions, presentations, teamwork, activities, video/audio materials and projects.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: (Re)mixing Qualitative Methods

In this upper-level course exploring approaches to meld traditional data collection methods with alternative techniques, students will review decolonizing ways that Black/African American individuals have used to reveal their truths and construct and reconstruct images of themselves. Students will explore how these same processes can be applied in public health data collection to be inclusive and validate the methods and ways of knowing that have assisted underserved, underheard, and underrepresented communities in advocating for justice to survive. Course readings will consist of text that provides a critical lens to view qualitative data collection methods through and will include studies in historical and traumatic violence that underscore how people living in Black bodies work to survive by Joy DeGruy and the negotiating processes that Black individuals use to exercise agency and evaluate systemic oppressions that impede how they navigate life as articulated by authors such as Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and Jean Stefancic.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Silent but Loud: Navigating Health in a Cultural, Food, Poverty, and Environmental Caste

To be “healthy” is a complex obstacle course that many individuals living in certain bodies have to navigate. Black bodies, for example, are often the tied to (un)health because they are stereotyped as in need to be controlled, managed, and “guided” into healthfulness. And in the U.S., these are just a few of the terms that define Black bodies. Guide by such questions such as, “How does culture define health?”, “How does the food pipeline affect the health of certain bodies?” and “What does it mean to live in an obesogenic environment?” in this course, we examine the connection between health, culture, food, and environment with a focus on what is silenced and what is loud when generating “fixes” for  “diseased” bodies. Silence refers to the disregard and dismissiveness of the narratives and experiences around the oppressions attached to the health of certain bodies. Yet, this silence echoes as Loud when connected to their culture, food, environment when discussing diseases highlighted in Black bodies such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Literary Genres + Health: A TBR Readalong

When I was a student my “To Be Read” list was always really long and often forgotten. As I have re-established my love of reading for fun I see how literary genres influence and challenge our understanding of well-being/health. Fiction, non-fiction, poems, memoirs, novels, young adult fiction, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, fairy tales, horror, children’s literature, magical realism, and so many other genres influence popular understanding of various health issues. They give us insight into how other folks imagine and understanding situations we may or may not find ourselves in. The best text allow us to empathize with the characters or authors, to consider what we would do if we were them. When I was thinking up this course, books that came to mind included “The Cancer Journals,” “The Fault in Our Stars,” “Being Mortal,” “The Bell Jar,” “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” “The Marrow Thieves,” “Radium Girls,” “My Sister’s Keeper,” “Call the Midwife,” “Invisible,” “The Beauty of Breaking,” “Medical Apartheid,” “What the Eyes Don’t See,” “And the Band Played On,” and “Bad Blood.” Our course will consider some of these and other genres noted above.  You’ll be asked to propose a book to read/listen to and a list of various text will also be provided if you need guidance in choosing a text. We will consider issues like how these text influence the norms about health and well-being. In this course we will use ungrading but will require 2 assignment submissions in order to pass the course. Beatriz will help you access books that aren’t easily available or affordable.