General Education and Global Health

Global health courses fulfill a number of requirements for the Harvard College Program on General Education (Gen Ed). The Gen Ed Program seeks to “connect a student’s liberal education – that is, an education conducted in a spirit of free inquiry, rewarding in its own right – to life beyond college.” General Education courses can be a great way to provide an introduction to global health concepts; Gen Ed courses have no prerequisites and can be taken by students at all levels.  Indeed, the foundational courses for the Secondary Field in Global Health and Health Policy are all part of the Gen Ed curriculum, and are an ideal way for students to begin a series of courses in global health topics.

Secondary Field in Global Health and Health Policy

The Global Health and Health Policy Secondary Field (GHHP) encourages students to explore interdisciplinary health challenges. Through a curriculum that encourages experiential learning, students can engage complex themes from a variety of perspectives. For example, areas of focus might include: accountability and governance, exploring the role of the state versus transnational organizations in global health; the risk of pandemic diseases and their economic and psychological impact on populations; the consequences of political change in a country’s health (e.g. post-Soviet Union); or the challenges resulting from complex emergencies and vulnerable populations in fragile states.

The natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities all contribute to the study of global health and health policy. Students may explore any one of a number of topics ranging from interdisciplinary health problems and social determinants to a concentrated focus on social responses, such as health systems and health policies.

Check out the blue book on the GHHP website for a comprehensive list of global health courses at Harvard.

HGHI Undergraduate Courses

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” ran in Fall 2020.

The ongoing Covid-19 epidemic 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 assesses 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. The 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 on YouTube: HarvardX: Confront COVID-19

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