American Medicine & the World (undergrad lecture): The authority of modern biomedicine is a social achievement–with effects that ripple across the US and the globe. This course explores how the social settings of medical research, evaluation, and treatment affect health outcomes; how the credibility of medical expertise is created, defended, and challenged; and how inequalities are built into medical knowledge and diffused through global institutions. Students will develop skills in evaluating evidence and arguments about biomedicine; in comparing, critiquing and analyzing international health data in writing and discussion; and in using campus resources to explore social studies of medicine beyond the classroom.
History of Global Health (undergrad seminar): This seminar is a critical history of public health, international health, and colonial medicine over the past century. The aim of the course is to build a nuanced, historically informed understanding of recent efforts to improve health on a global scale by examining the legacies to which they respond. The course surveys the colonial roots of global health and examines the positive and negative consequence of global-health interventions at the level of populations and individual lives. Case studies examine vaccination, population management, and health education campaigns through global empires and internal colonialism. Readings emphasize shifts among missionary medicine, tropical medicine, international health and global health–and explore recent debates about health “neocolonialism” in the economic sphere through the global expansion of medical markets and research.
Healing Animals (undergrad seminar): Some animals are doctors’ best friends. Non-human animals are essential to modern medicine, and play an indispensable role in therapeutics and in research. Animals are also patients in their own right, and fuel veterinary/comparative medicine, as well as concerns about the health of animals as friends, food, entertainment, and vectors of disease. Despite the centrality of animals in medicine, the roles of some animals—and some activities—are often obscured or erased. Through classroom discussion and outside assignments, students will consider the legal, economic, social and emotional techniques people use to both celebrate and conceal the central place of animals in modern medicine.
Medicine on Trial (undergrad seminar): In courts of law, medicine is both an object of dispute, and a source of evidence. This course compares how individuals, communities, companies, and governments manage contested medicine in judicial settings. It explores questions such as, Who is affected by courtroom decisions related to medicine? What are the consequences, both intended and unintended? Who—or what—speaks on behalf of medicine? Lectures introduce key cases and scholarly concepts in the social study of law and medicine. Through classroom discussion and outside assignments, students consider central issues in western law and medicine (including rights, privacy, consent, and ownership) as they have been adjudicated in religious, military, tribal, national, and international courts.
Making the Modern Hospital (undergrad seminar): The design and architecture of hospitals has changed radically over the past three centuries, and these changes have affected the lived experiences of patients, caregivers, and communities. Working in a collaborative classroom setting, students will consider why the place of care—both in buildings and in human bodies—has shifted because of legal, economic, demographic, scientific and cultural factors. It will compare these factors across different settings and regions using case studies such as asylums, infirmaries, homes, theaters of war, mobile clinics, and modern research hospitals in the US and abroad. The course will introduce students to major theories on the relationship between medicine and its physical locations, including Foucault, Goffman, and de Certeau. Students will develop research skills and experience working with resources, such as archives, datasets, and digital materials.
Sociology of Knowledge (graduate): What distinguishes formal, official knowledge from vernacular, common knowledge? The field of sociology of knowledge explores knowledge-making as a social process. This readings course introduces graduate students to the theoretical foundations of the field and examines key approaches scholars have used to explain patterns in who—or what—have served as credible sources of social, political, scientific or aesthetic claims. Course readings begin with the field’s foundation in late nineteenth century Marxism and extend through New Materialism in the twenty-first century. The course is designed both as a tutorial that identifies the field’s key themes, questions, and terms of debate, and as an invitation for participants to explore new puzzles and modes of explanation as knowledge-makers themselves.
Social Studies of Science, Medicine & Technology (graduate): Science & Technology Studies (STS) is a formal academic discipline that examines how knowledge is created in science and medicine. Through the interdisciplinary field of STS, scholars have explored how technologies, social groups, institutions, and other factors shape what we know—and do not know—in the human and natural sciences. This seminar introduces graduate students to the most up-to-date questions and debates in STS. Class readings are limited to books and articles published within the past five years. Throughout the semester, students learn to use traditional methods and new digital tools to develop research skills and scholarly networks worldwide. At the end of the course, students conduct a recorded interview with the author of a recent book in STS that may air, if students choose, on the podcast, “New Books in STS.”