Learn about the roots of the modern global health movement and the origins of current responses to the COVID-19 disease crisis by examining how governments, organizations, and people intervened in medicine and public health in the past.
A helpful article about this course may be found here.
This course traces the history and politics of overseas interventions in medicine and public health from the pre-modern period to the present COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, it reconstructs the historical origins of the modern global health movement, highlighting the movement's roots in practices of colonialism and empire-building, the rise of international commerce and industrial capitalism, the development of international philanthropy, and efforts to secure and protect national borders during epidemics and other public health and humanitarian crises. As a class, we will ask whether relationships forged through colonialism continue to structure international medical interventions and the interactions of foreign health professionals, local experts, and patients in the modern global south. We will also examine the ideologies, institutions, ethics, and practices of international health during much of the twentieth century, questioning to what extent the more recent global health movement represents a new and distinct approach. Finally, we will study how patients, communities, healers, and government officials in the global south have experienced, supported, and resisted international medical interventions in the past. By studying this history both from the top down and the bottom up, we will develop a clear understanding of how the past informs the present in the contemporary global health movement, shaping both its achievements and its limitations. We will also consider how a historical approach may help experts address complex political and ethical concerns within the global health movement.
Paper (and related steps) 25%
Participation--You will be graded on your participation in discussion section. It is important that everyone contributes to discussions, as you will learn a great deal from each other. You are expected to come to section having completed all of the assigned reading for that week, and having thought about passages, ideas, or questions for discussion. Please do not feel shy about speaking. For those who are nervous about speaking up, please remember that while thoughtful, brilliant, insightful comments are certainly appreciated, they are neither required nor expected. You can contribute just as much by asking a question or seeking clarification. Chances are that if there’s something you don’t understand, other students in class are confused as well.
Paper--In the paper assignment you will be asked to write a short history of a disease, health condition, medical act such as childbirth, or medical procedure such as surgery, examining both how understandings of it have changed over time and how healers and health professionals have intervened in its treatment or management. This paper will require a modest amount of outside research. It should focus on several different periods in the past in order to emphasize and explain historical change. You will receive more detailed instructions in week two of the course. In the meantime, please begin thinking about the topic on which you would like to focus.
Midterm and Final--The midterm and final exams will involve ID terms and essay questions. ID terms will be drawn from lists of terms included in the lecture handouts for each class. I plan to give you a shortened list of terms to study one week before each exam. I will grade you according to your ability to define each term and address its relevance for understanding the broader history of medicine, public health, and global health. Your responses should be the length of a short paragraph.
The essay questions will be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of materials from both lectures and readings. In each exam you will be asked to write a short essay in response to a question focused specifically on readings from the course. You will also be asked to write a longer essay in response to a question about historical change as addressed in lectures and readings. If you attend lectures consistently and keep up with the readings, you should do fine.