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HSTY 241. Inventing Public Health. 3 Units. (Last Taught: Spring 2010)

The core principle of this course is that public health is a concept that was formed in different ways at different times in different places. It had no existence as we know it before the nineteenth century, but course participants will learn how it grew out of an ancient tradition of the political elite's concern that its subjects were a threat to them and the stability of the realm. Course participants will discover how, in the nineteenth century, it became a professional practice as we know it and realized advances in human health, longevity, and security perhaps greater than any made since. At the same time, the course will also cover how many of the assumptions of those that inaugurated public health were completely alien to present-day practitioners--even though in many ways it is a practice that helped inaugurate the modern world so familiar to us. Course participants will learn about the close relationship between public health agencies and agendas and various kinds of social authority: political power, moral influence, colonial power, and others. Ultimately, the aim of the course is to show participants that even though public health seems a supremely common sense practice, it had a highly contested birth and early life that was anything but natural or pre-ordained. That complicated birth continues to shape public health to this day. Counts for CAS Global & Cultural Diversity Requirement.