Vaccines: History, Science, Policy (Gen Ed 1175)

Former HGHI Interim Faculty Director Dr. Allan Brandt and HGHI Associate Faculty Director Dr. Ingrid Katz have joined Dr. Galit Alter to offer a new Gen Ed course “Vaccines: History, Science, Policy (Gen Ed 1175)“. The course takes a deep dive into the history, science, and policy issues that have defined this public health tool. Read the full course description below:

Vaccination is among the oldest and most effective of medical interventions, yet paradoxically, it is also one of the most controversial. In its modern form, it has been used for centuries to prevent some of the most virulent infectious scourges of our time. Today, immunization is one of the most successful and effective interventions available to medicine and public health, reducing morbidity and mortality across the world. In this interdisciplinary course you will examine the history of vaccination using a number of specific episodes in which it was utilized to prevent illness, disability and death, as well as the social and political controversies that vaccines have generated. You will also be introduced to the modern science of immunology and virology, examining the research that has resulted in the development of effective vaccines. Additionally you will explore current scientific theories and techniques for developing new vaccines and enhancing their durability. Finally, this course will investigate the complex ethical and policy issues that vaccines continue to generate. What is the nature of compulsory measures for vaccination; vaccine hesitancy and skepticism; and anti-vaccination movements? What are the moral and ethical principles for ensuring equitable access to vaccines in local communities, nations, and globally? The course will encourage a broad interdisciplinary exploration of vaccines to inform our current understanding of the Covid-19 pandemic, while also examining critical issues in science, life-saving technologies, questions of individualism and the good of the community, as well as fundamental issues of global health equity.

Confronting COVID-19: Science, History, Policy

Led by Allan Brandt and Ingrid Katz, this Gen Ed course “Confronting Covid 19: Science, History, Policy” was offered in Fall 2020.

The Covid-19 pandemic presents an important opportunity for Harvard undergraduates to observe closely–utilizing a range of methods and approaches–this world-changing, historic episode and to analyze scientific, social, and political elements of the US and global responses.   

A number of scholars in the social sciences and humanities have deployed to investigate epidemics and patterns of health and disease through the exploration of how societies respond to and explain epidemics.  

The course assessed essential characteristics of contemporary scientific knowledge, medical practices, as well as deeper social structure and inequalities, policymaking, and values and ethics related to COVID-19.   

This course provided an opportunity for undergraduates at Harvard to deepen their understanding of a contemporary crisis as well as to explicate a wide range of disciplinary methods and skills.

WATCH Full Recordings of the Course Below

HarvardX: Confront COVID-19 on YouTube

Each course lecture was recorded, captioned, and made available in the YouTube library over the course of the semester.

Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic 

Led by former Harvard Global Health Institute Director Dr. Ashish Jha, the edX course – Lessons from Ebola: Preventing the Next Pandemic illustrates the architecture of health systems at the height of the Ebola outbreak, provides clarity on the governance, structure, and capacity issues that were underscored during the crisis, and places an emphasis on where the world can stand next in preventing future pandemics.

About the course

The 2014 Ebola outbreak has made clear the fragility of existing health systems. While responding to the current pandemic is critical, we also have an opportunity to learn lessons for pandemic responses, to forge partnerships across borders and disciplines, and demonstrate our commitment to value all human lives.

This four-week course provided the context in which to understand the Ebola outbreak — why now, and why did so many people suffer and die? The course lays out the global governance structure — what was the global response supposed to look like, and where did it fail?

The course featured practitioners, experts, and scholars who focused on cultivating a better understanding of the Ebola epidemic and implications for future health systems to ensure that the world is more effective in preventing the next pandemic.

What you’ll learn

  • What happened during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa?
  • What were the local challenges faced by patients, clinicians, and national policy makers?
  • Why did the international response fail to halt Ebola and prevent its spread?
  • How do we prevent the next the pandemic?