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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Katherine S. Wander
ANTH 472
Seattle Campus

Case Studies in Medical Anthropology and Global Health

Uses multidisciplinary case studies to analyze quantitative parameters of diseases; contrast the description and analytic approaches of health sciences, anthropology, and other social sciences; integrate divers disciplinary perspectives into cohesive information; organize class presentations; and apply critical thinking in approaches to complex health issues. Offered: Sp.

Class description

Case studies in global health: Why have major medical advances resulted in limited improvements in global health? Why are there massive gaps in population health around the world--between rich and poor within countries, and between wealthy and low-income nations? How are health intervention priorities determined? What is the role of globalization--the movement of information, people, goods and money around the word--in reducing or magnifying disparities in the burden of disease?

The challenges facing the field of global health are increasingly recognized to be rooted in a complex mix of biological and social determinants. Health, and the effective provision of health care services, depends on many factors outside, and beyond the control of, the clinical setting. These factors--biological, social, economic, political, legal, historical and cultural--influence the translation of health research and policy to health outcomes. This course takes a systematic critical approach to understanding this process from the perspectives of multiple disciplines, to give students the perspective and skills needed to address complex global health problems.

The 5 credit course uses an in-depth case-based approach to learning. Each case study will involve an intensive three week presentation and discussion of a current topic in global health. Planned case studies include female genital cutting (or "female circumcision") and vaccination campaigns; additional case studies will be selected to suit the interests of enrolled students.

Common and comprehensive learning objectives structure the presentation of each case: understanding the biomedical basis of the health issue, evaluating the evidence for the empirical claims made, articulating the arguments for and against prioritizing this issue over others, recognizing the institutional capacity needed to provide the services, identifying conflicts and tradeoffs, and addressing the ethical issues.

Over the course of the quarter, the students will collaborate in teams to develop cases studies of their own (including presenting the case to the class and facilitating subsequent discussion). At the end of the course, the student will know how to define the scope of a global health problem, identify the relevant contextual factors, critically research the evidence, and recognize the tradeoffs in the choices among alternatives.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Katherine S. Wander
Date: 08/08/2012