Over the course of the 20th and 21st centuries, infectious ideas about health and disease profoundly shaped American life. This course introduces students to a variety of health-related topics such as: the impact of infectious disease; the quest for public health; the development of medical knowledge and technology; the position of medicine in society; bioethics; and the place of doctors and alternative practitioners. We will explore how American society’s relationship to health and the body changed over time; and how medical knowledge and technological advancements contributed to this understanding. This will be an opportunity to learn how the pursuit of knowledge about disease causation, medicine, and technology generates a host of ethical questions related to human experimentation, organ transplantation, quality of life (healthcare), life support, vaccination, reproductive rights, euthanasia, and eugenics, among others. The material covered in this course, therefore, has far-reaching implications for our lives beyond the classroom.
Students will be assessed on their understanding of the readings and films, thoughtful contributions to daily discussions, and critical analysis in writing assignments. Throughout the course, students will engage in team-oriented and individual research, hone writing and oral presentation skills, and practice analytical thinking skills in daily discussions.
• Tentative class assignments include: class participation, food journal, disease presentation, primary source analysis (1-2 pages), two think pieces (2-3 pages), and a final paper (5-6 pages).