A Milk-Fed BoyTo Protect the Health of the Public has as its goal a deepened understanding of public health.  To do so, we offer three courses that focus on policy, history, culture, the place and power of government, and public and personal responsibility.  An overarching theme is the need to support public health infrastructure.  The themes related to public policy and personal responsibility that are present in all courses will be the keystones for three additional discussion sessions for all students and professors.

To Protect the Health of the Public Courses:

Social Work 354: Global Public Health: Strategies, Successes and Failures of Health Policies in India, Russia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States

Taught by Toba Kerson, this course uses three overarching concepts of globalization, social justice and community to help students to define and explore the idea of public health and to decide for themselves where responsibilities for the public health lie. The first half of the course has a global focus with an exploration of the evolution of some public health policy infrastructures in parts of Africa, India, the former Soviet Union and the United States. The second half focuses on the attempts of the United States to manage the public health through an exploration of examples of federal health legislation and the populations that they are intended to address. Major health legislation includes: soldiers’ and veterans’ benefits, Maternal and Child Health, Medicaid, Medicare, and laws related to the protection of the frail elderly.

French 275: Improving Mankind: Hygiene and Eugenics in the Age of Enlightenment

The goal of this course, taught by Rudy Le Menthéour, is to provide students with the means to better understand the ideological roots of modern hygiene and health policies. At first sight, hygiene and eugenics have nothing in common: the former is usually conceived as a good management –either private or public– of our everyday conditions of life, whereas the later are commonly reviled for having inspired discriminatory practices not only in Nazi Germany, but also in democratic countries like the US, Sweden, and Switzerland. Our inquiry explores how a sub-discipline of Medicine –namely Hygiene– was redefined, expanded its scope and developed its ambitions, and eventually became hegemonic both in the medical field and in the civil society. We also explore how and why a philanthropic ideal led to the quest for the improvement of the human species. This seminar also helps us reconsider the legacy of ‘enlightened' hygiene, and more broadly of the Enlightenment. Although the course focuses on France in the 18th Century, we make incursions into the 19th Century and compare the French situation with that of other countries (mainly UK and the USA).

General Studies 201: Nutrition, Smoking and Cardiovascular Health: Exemplars of the Relationship between Health, Federal Policies and National Associations in the United States

This course, taught by Jason Hewitt, is designed to explore the relationships between health, national associations, and the federal government as they relate to the creation and implementation of laws and policies, as well as the perception of what is healthy. The class focuses on health in the United States. The course includes a look at tobacco use through U.S. history as a case study for how the federal government acts and reacts to protect the public. Then, in turn, to evaluate how the public reacts to pressures from the government and other national associations. From there, students will be asked to examine current trends in nutrition and cardiovascular health in order to draw parallels between the previous function of government in the protection of the populace and the current efforts in these two areas.