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2023-2024 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 underpinning specific paradigms in the policy and science of global health practice, and place present-day developments in historical perspective. As an introductory course on global health, the class delves into comparative health systems, including comparative health systems in high- and low-income countries. Key topics will include: policies and approaches to global health, key actors in global health, comparative health systems, structural violence, gender and reproductive health, chronic and communicable diseases, politics of global health research and evidence, and the ethics of global health equity.

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 221: Beyond Porn: Health, Sexuality, and Pleasure

Threesomes. Squirting. Vibrators. Butt plugs. Multiple orgasms. You may have seen them in pornography, but have you ever wanted to study and talk about sex, and specifically, how to have a satisfying sex life? Many people look to pornography not just for entertainment, but also for education about what satisfying sexual encounters look like. Unfortunately, much of what people learn from pornography doesn't lead them to healthy and satisfying sexual encounters and relationships. This lecture class isn't actually about pornography. It goes beyond many presumptions about sex and pleasure depicted in pornography and popular culture, in order to equip students with information that can lead to more satisfying and healthy sexual experiences across their lifespan, regardless of how they identify, or who or what they like. The course also familiarizes students with a wide spectrum of human identities, practices, and attitudes towards sex and sexuality. Topics covered include: physiological and biological sex; gender; sexual orientation; homophobia and heterosexism; navigating sexual risks in a sex-positive way; sexual health disparities; sexual desire, arousal, and response; solitary sex & sex with others; sex toys; unconventional sexual practices; intimacy and effective communication; sexuality & aging; sexuality, disability & intimacy; sexual problems and solutions; sexual pleasure as part of sexual health; sexual harassment and violence; selling sex; and yes, a brief unit on problematics and possibilities in pornography.

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement 

GBL_HLTH 222: The Social Determinants of Health

The human body is embedded into a health framework that can produce hypervisibility, invisibility, or both. This course in social science and medical anthropology examines the role of social markers of difference, including race, class, gender, sexuality, age, and religion, in current debates and challenges in the theory and practice of global health. We will explore recent illness experiences, therapeutic and self-care interventions, and health practices and behaviors in socio-cultural and historical context through case studies in the U.S., Brazil, and South Africa. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to key concepts such as embodiment, medicalization, structural violence, social determinants of health, biopolitics, health equity, and an ethic of care. Central questions of the course include: How do categories of "Othering" determine disease and health in individuals and collectives? How is medical science and care influenced by economic and political institutions and by patient trust? How do social and economic inclusion/exclusion control access to health treatment and self-care and care of others? This course focuses on the linkages between society and health inequalities in the U.S. and economic powers. It offers a forum to explore policy application with a particular emphasis on definitions that form social factors. This course utilizes historical accounts, contemporary ethnographies, Twitter threads of health experiences, public health literature, media reports, TedTalks, and films to bring to life the "why's" of health differences.

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. With an emphasis on the ethical responsibility to reduce inequities, we consider some of the most pressing global bioethical issues of our time: equity, fairness, and planetary health. Particular attention is given to the ethics of research during a pandemic and equitable access to vaccines and therapies for Covid-19. 
Fulfills Area V (Ethics and Values) distribution requirement


GBL_HLTH 303: (Re)mixing Qualitative Methods

This course explores traditional and alternative data collection methods in public health research. The course focuses on 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 decolonizing processes can be applied in public health data collection to make research inclusive and to validate methods and ways of knowing that have assisted underserved, underheard, and underrepresented communities in advocating for justice to survive. Course readings and videos will provide a critical lens on qualitative data collection methods, including studies on historical and traumatic violence underscoring how people living in Black bodies work to survive, and 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 Joy DeGruy, Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and Jean Stefanci. 

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 306: Biomedicine and Culture

Biomedicine (aka "Western" or allopathic medicine) is often represented as neutral and ‘scientific’— the opposite of culture. Yet experiences and practices surrounding biomedicine are influenced by culture, history, (infra)structures, and flows of ideas, people and resources. Thus, this course begins with the premise that biomedicine is produced through social processes, and therefore has its own inherent culture(s). The aim of this seminar course is to expose students to the social and cultural aspects of biomedicine through a geographic comparison between select world regions. Focusing on the interrelations between technology, medicine, science, politics, society, religion, power and place, topics covered will include: medical history, learning medicine, rethinking “care”, and unexpected aspects of biomedical cultures and practice. Through a focus on the logics by which biomedicine is practiced, we will be able to get into additional depth regarding how race, class, gender, history, and politics shape what medicine gets to be in different contexts, while also understanding how biomedicine converges with political economy, business, bureaucracy, profit, global health, and humanitarianism.

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 309: Biomedicine and World History

This lecture course uses the Covid-19 pandemic as a point of departure to study the history of global health and biomedicine. We will break the quarter into four segments during which we will consider: 1) the "unification of the globe" by infectious diseases; 2) the role of empires, industries, war, and revolutions in spreading biomedical cultures around the world; 3) the functions played by transnational and global health institutions in different continents; and 4) the growth of the pharmaceutical industry and the narcotics trade. Students will have a chance to apply insights from the readings - about histories of racial segregation, reproductive politics, militarization, and police powers - to the more recent past. 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 310-1: Supervised Global Health Research: Maternal Health in the 20th Century

Maternal health, in particular, maternal mortality, is a significant concern in global health, and in this class we will consider the historical roots of two areas of focus on improving maternal health and reducing maternal mortality: women having access to skilled birth attendants and birth control options. We will look at this broad international concern by focusing on the work of one organization in the 1960s-1970s, the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), by examining their papers, held at the Wellcome Library and Archives in London. We will visit the library the week before classes start and this research will form the basis of the seminar course during the quarter. This class will culminate in a major paper using the primary sources from the ICM research done in London.
Course available to accepted applicants only.

GBL_HLTH 318: Community-based Research Participation

Oftentimes we hear of research done on communities. What we hear less about is the power inequities, silences, and sometimes, violence, that many research paradigms (un)intentionally produce within their research. This course exposes prevalent assumptions underlying common research methodologies and demonstrates why they are problematic for many of the communities that researchers purport to want to assist. We then delve into community-based participatory research (CBPR), a research paradigm that challenges researchers to conduct research with communities. In this reading-intense discussion-based course, we will learn the historical and theoretical foundations, and the key principles of CBPR. Students will be introduced to methodological approaches to building community partnerships, research planning, and data sharing. Real-world applications of CBPR in health will be studied to illustrate benefits and challenges of this methodological approach to research. Further, this course will address culturally appropriate interventions, working with diverse communities, and ethical considerations in CBPR. 

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) 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, and the Middle East, 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 roles 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 323: 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 on global health practice, and on local realities. Going beyond the intentions underlying policy, this course highlights the histories and material, political, economic, and social realities of policy and its application. Drawing on case studies of policy makers, government officials, insurance agents, health care workers, and aid recipients, the course asks: what politics inform which issues become prioritized or codified in global health and development policy, and which do not? How do philosophies and values about “good governance,” “best practices,” “preparedness,” or “economic progress” influence the kinds of policies that are envisioned and/or implemented? How do politics affect global health or medical system governance, and to what effect on the ground? In what ways are policies adapted, adopted, innovatively engaged, or outright rejected by various global health actors, and what does this mean for the challenges that such policies aim to address? Ultimately, what is the relationship between global health politics and global health disparities?

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 337: 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. 

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 338: 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.

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 339: Silent but Loud: Negotiating 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. In the U.S., these narrow stereotypes are just a few of the ways Black bodies get defined. In this course, we will move beyond those restrictive stereotypes, guided by 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, and environment when discussing diseases highlighted in Black bodies such as obesity, hypertension, and diabetes.

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement

GBL_HLTH 340: Mental Health and the Arts

This course draws on perspectives from anthropology, related social scientific fields, and the humanities to explore the role of the arts and media narratives in shaping politics and experiences of mental health and illness around the world. We will consider forms of storytelling—including literature, film, and theater—across eras and cultures, tracking shifts in perspectives on normality and pathology and their consequences for the most vulnerable. How does the power of Western psychiatry intersect with that of global media to reinforce reigning paradigms and imperatives for how suffering is to be understood, classified, and experienced? Conversely, what counter-narratives are being produced by artists and their communities? What role can the arts play in individual and collective forms of healing—or in exacerbating pain and grievance? What kinds of voices seem to have power, and which are neglected? Where is the line between cathartic and exploitative representation of trauma and mental illness? How, in short, do the stories we tell about mental illness “get under the skin” and shape forms of suffering and care?

Fulfills Area III (Social and Behavioral Sciences) distribution requirement 

GBL_HLTH 390-0-21 (PUB_HLTH 390-0-20): Special Topics in Global Health: 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 390-0-27: 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, sociology, history, and medicine. This course does not focus on nor teach traditional Native medicine or philosophies as those are not appropriate in this predominately non-Native environment. 

GBL_HLTH 390-0-28: Special Topics in Global Health: Global Epidemics

From modern pandemics such as Ebola and COVID-19, to ancient scourges such as leprosy and the plague, epidemics have shaped human history. In turn, the response of human societies to infectious disease threats have varied wildly in time and across cultures.  We are currently living such an event, and experiencing in dramatic fashion how disease reshapes society. This course will cover several prominent global epidemic episodes, examining the biology of the disease, epidemic pathways, sociopolitical responses and public health measures, and the relationship between the scientific and the cultural consequences of these outbreaks.

GBL_HLTH 390-0-29: Special Topics in Global Health: Global Circulations and Human Health: Migrations and Trafficks of Human Beings, Human Parts, and Human Products

Human beings and human parts/products are on the move across the globe, shaped by inequities that drive poor health outcomes for many involved in these circulations. More human beings are being forced from their homes than ever before in history; more and more are being turned away as they seek resettlement. Global economic migration is poorly regulated and rife with exploitation. The flow of human organs for transplantation increasingly moves from the poor in the Global South to the rich in the Global North. Even the production of human babies through international surrogacy is driven by economic inequities. This course examines the role of advocacy, law, politics and ethics to preserve dignity and health as human beings and human parts increasingly circulate across global boundaries.

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: Decolonisation, Knowledge, and Global Health

The field that is currently called "global health" is going through a reckoning with its history and its present. Much of that reckoning is about the colonial origins and underpinnings of the field, with a particular focus on "unfair knowledge practices" or epistemic injustice. In this seminar, we will examine the landscape of unfair knowledge practices in global health - i.e., the pervasive wrongs related to knowledge making, knowledge use, and knowledge sharing in global health - many of which are taken for granted. We will start with the unfairness inherent in how we often define global health itself, and what decolonisation means in relation to "global health". Using a range of conceptual tools, we will then examine various common practices especially in academic global health (e.g., authorship practices, research partnerships, academic writing, editorial practices, sensemaking/interpretive practices, and the choice of research audience, framing, topics, questions, and methods) and discuss when, how, and under what circumstances they may be deemed fair or unfair. We will use practical examples of each category of knowledge practice to think critically about what makes them fair or unfair. Using these examples, we will also examine what strategies might be required to promote fairness or epistemic justice, including the potential roles and responsibilities of the broad range of individual and institutional actors within the knowledge ecosystem of "global health". 

GBL_HLTH 390: Special Topics in Global Health: R.E.C.I.P.E: Returning Ethnic Culinary Importance, Practices, and Experiences to Health

The characteristics of a good recipe are said to have a list of the ingredients, the amounts needed, and the directions for mixing the ingredients. However, outside of food-based ingredients, there are also social elements that contribute to a good recipe. Food is something that outside of the social constructs of race, phobias, and isms, that can bind us all together. This interdisciplinary course focuses on defining togetherness, belongingness, and the end goal of a recipe— eating. Through the lens of recipes, meal-making, social stigmas, nutrition, and health students will explore how cultural culinary practices have become evidence for illnesses, diseases, and death for certain bodies. Course readings, videos, dialogue, and recipe analyses will provide a critical lens for students to delve into the multifaceted dimensions of culinary practices, their impact on individuals and communities, and how some practices have been sifted through and out.