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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Wanda Martina Morris
UCONJ 504
Seattle Campus

Advanced Interdisciplinary Case Studies in Global Health

Uses actual multidisciplinary case studies to (1) analyze quantitative parameters of diseases, (2) contrast the descriptive and analytic approaches of health sciences, anthropology, and nutritional sciences, (3) integrate diverse disciplinary perspectives into cohesive information, (4) organize class presentations, and (5) apply critical thinking in approaching complex health issues. Offered: Sp.

Class description

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? What are the most pressing health concerns, and 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, in some instances, magnifying the burden of disease?

Increasingly the challenges facing global health have come to be understood as multidimensional biological and social problems that require creative and innovative solutions that extend beyond a clinical focus. Recognizing that "health" is not determined solely by health care services, it becomes apparent that a multidisciplinary approach is urgently needed to understand the broader biological, sociopolitical and cultural context of disease.

The goal of this course is to take a critical approach - one that appreciates disciplinary perspectives, as well as the need for interdisciplinary collaboration - in order to effectively address complex global health concerns. The 3 credit course is taught by a team of three instructors from different schools and departments on campus, and uses an in-depth case-based approach to learning. Each instructor is responsible for leading a detailed presentation of a current topic in global health, with the class and the other instructors.

This year the cases will be:

* Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission of HIV (led by Prof Martina Morris) * Female Genital Cutting (led by Prof Bettina Shell-Duncan) * Tuberculosis in a Social Network of Immigrant Youth (led by Prof Ann Kurth)

While the topics vary, common and comprehensive learning objectives structure the presentation of every case: the biomedical basis of the health issue, the evidence base for treatment and prevention, the arguments for and against prioritizing this issue over others, the institutional capacity required for progress, the tradeoffs involved, and the ethical issues raised. At the end of the course, the student will know how to define a problem, identify the relevant contextual factors, critically research the evidence, and recognize complexities and tradeoffs.

Student learning goals

Describe the case studies covered analytically considering quantitative parameters such as populations affected, and resulting burden of disease in affected societies

Contrast the descriptive and analytic approaches taken by the disciplines represented in the seminar towards the three case studies: health sciences, social sciences, and nutritional sciences

Find and evaluate the information needed to understand the biomedical science, the social context and the ethical aspects of a case.

Integrate diverse disciplinary perspectives into a comprehensive analytical framework for understanding individual case studies.

Organize diverse disciplinary information resources for presentation in class discussion

Consistently apply and demand critical thinking in approaching complex health issues.

General method of instruction

Seminar / Lecture / discussion. The class will be taught in seminar format involving the presentation of cases, and an interactive dialogue between the case instructor and the students. The course format will combine seminar discussions and occasional informal lectures, with an emphasis on critical evaluation of currently debated issues. Readings are indicated on the schedule on the day they will be discussed. The readings will be available through links on the course website and UW Health Sciences library e-reserves.

Recommended preparation

No prerequisites for graduate students (undergrads by permission of instructor). Familiarity with the format and content of scientific articles is suggested.

Class assignments and grading

Requirements for the class include active participation, completion of a personal statement, 3 position papers on current debates, and GoPosts.

Grades will be weighted as follows:

Participation 20% Personal Statement 10% 3 Position Papers 40% GoPosts 30%

There will be no final exam.


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Wanda Martina Morris
Date: 02/25/2008