CSP 51: "Health and Humanity Colloquium"
This interdisciplinary course will bring together the tools of History, Economics, and Philosophy to examine and analyze the concept of health and the practice of medicine.
CSP 3: "Health and Humanity Colloquium"
(Fall 2015; 8 units)
As part of Oxy’s Core curriculum, students are expected to take a Cultural Studies Program (CSP) course in both the Fall and Spring semesters of their first-year. One of your options is to take a special team-taught interdisciplinary course, such as Health and Humanity (8 units), which meets not only the Fall semester first-year writing requirement, but also the pre-1800 and Global Connections Core requirements. Note: This course is only open to first-year students.
This interdisciplinary course will bring together the tools of History, Economics, and Philosophy to analyze the concept of health and the practice of medicine. Students will learn how notions of health and well-being and institutions of medicine are culturally and historically bound, how they participate in a broad network of economic priorities and transactions, and how they are philosophically grounded in conceptions of morality, science, and humanity.
In the course, students will consider the following questions:
- How has Western society defined well-being and health throughout history?
- What have people understood to be the value of health and of life? And how have they felt about and prepared for death?
- What were the origins of the field of medicine? In the infancy of the field, how did medical theorists and physicians construct medical knowledge and structure medical institutions?
- How have health outcomes and institutions changed over time? How are they conceptualized and organized in the present in the United States and internationally?
- How do we understand the structure of the markets for health insurance and health care?
- How do policy analysts quantify and measure health and the value of life?
- How ought we measure health and the value of life?
- How do we justly distribute both health care itself and the scarce resources of the health care system (such as, organs)?
- How can we use the tools of History, Philosophy, and Economics to approach tough issues related to health and medicine (such as, issues related to sexuality and death)?
These questions alert us to the vast reach of and manifold issues related to health and medicine. Students wishing to enter into health professions—whether as physicians, allied health workers, researchers, or policy experts—are especially encouraged to enroll.
Success of Former Students
The students who enrolled in this course in Spring 2013 are now finishing their junior year, and represent some of the very best at Occidental, using the skills they began developing in Health & Humanity to pursue a wide variety of activities on and off campus: Some have interned or volunteered at the City of Hope cancer research hospital, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and hospice facilities. Others have been awarded prestigious honors, such as a Fletcher Science Scholar to study neural stem cells, a Stauffer Research Fellowship, and a Luce China Environment Grant. Finally, many of our students have been accepted into Oxy’s competitive summer research program.
The team of faculty teaching this CSP colloquium are exceptionally interdisciplinary and contribute unique perspectives into the study of health and medicine:
Prof. Kristi Upson-Saia is an historian of the ancient Mediterranean. She will introduce students to the origins and development of the field of medicine in the Greco-Roman world (from the 5th c. BCE-3rd c. CE). She will introduce students to the ways in which the nascent field of medicine related to and stacked up against other “healing” domains of society early in the history of science. She will also help students see how the cultural and philosophical framing of life, well-being, and death in the Greco-Roman world persists as a foundation for contemporary Western notions of health, as well as how ancient structures of healing set the purview of contemporary institutions of medicine.
Prof. Brandon Lehr is interested in the analytic frameworks for understanding contemporary health care provision by both the private and public sectors and the impact of health care on measures of wellness and happiness. The market for health care is particularly unique in that it allows for an introduction to a wide range of economic topics, ranging from issues of imperfect information to non-competitive market structure, the role of government intervention, and the value of life. He will help students apply the tools of economics to evaluate the methods by which societies can produce and allocate health.
Prof. Clair Morrissey’s area of specialization is practical moral philosophy, especially bioethics. She is interested in how philosophers understand ‘method’ in the context of bioethics, the ethics of inquiry and research, and notions of ‘vulnerability’ and ‘dignity’ in practical moral decision-making (especially medicine, scientific research and law). She will draw on her experience as a Trainee at the interdisciplinary Center for Genomics and Society at the UNC School of Medicine to help unify and reflect on the different disciplinary perspectives and modes of engaging with ‘health’ offered by this curriculum.
To pre-register for the course, students should sign up on the Google Form linked here. The deadline to sign-up is June 19, 2015. Students who are placed in the course will be automatically enrolled in the plenary (MWF 12:50-1:45) portion of the course. Then, after consulting with your advisor during New Student Orientation, you are expected to sign up for one of the classsections (MWF 9:35-10:30; MWF 10:40-11:35; or MWF 11:45-12:40).
Johnson Hall-McKinnon Center
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