Elective Courses

Students are required to complete three elective courses among the following. Additional 300-level courses may also be considered as electives with approval from the Global Health Studies program. Please note that students who entered Northwestern prior to the start of Fall 2014 can choose to complete the previous requirement of four electives. Up to two electives can be taken abroad.

African Studies

AFST 390: Politics of International Aid

Billions of dollars have been given to developing countries over the past fifty years, yet critics argue that aid is ineffectual and, worse yet, harmful to recipients. In this course, we will examine the politics surrounding the delivery of international aid, exploring who decides the aid agenda, which countries receive what aid and, once delivered, how aid interacts with the political dynamics of recipient communities. The course begins with a brief history of ‘development' as a concept, tracing the international aid regime's evolution over the last century, before turning to current debates over international assistance, highlighting throughout how politics pervades even the most ‘technical' of aid interventions. The course blends traditional seminar-style discussions with the Harvard Business School case method. The case method asks students to collectively make a decision on a real-world case involving international aid. The case method highlights to students the strategic and ethical complexities of aid work, encouraging students to develop their ability to articulate clear, persuasive arguments and to engage in complex negotiations with their classmates.

African American Studies


The remarkable transformation of HIV/AIDS from an inevitable death sentence to a manageable chronic illness in well-resourced countries like the United States is one of the most noteworthy scientific achievements of the past 35 years. Recent medical advances have made the goal of an AIDS-free generation plausible in the US, and the epidemic commands less and less public attention. Yet the rate of new HIV infections in the US hovers stubbornly at approximately 50,000/year, and HIV/AIDS is widely recognized as not only a medical epidemic but also a manifestation of complex inequalities at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality. In this advanced undergraduate seminar, students will develop an in-depth understanding of the scope and dimensions of HIV/AIDS in the United States and abroad and consider the role of race, class, gender, and sexuality in the epidemic. We will also explore how social movements, public policies, and cultural representations (film, art, media, public debate, etc) have played integral roles in the epidemic and the response.

American Studies

AMER_ST 310: US Health: Illness and Inequality

In this course students will examine themes in the history of health in the United States, particularly in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Readings will focus on the intersections between health and environment, gender, race, law, and region. We will consider questions such as what's the impact of environmental change in transforming medical, scientific, and lay understanding and experience of health and illness? What's the role of illness in shaping changing perceptions of the environment? How has race been central to the construction and treatment of disease? How has gender shaped conceptions of and approaches to health? What historical role have issues of gender, race, and class played in the inequitable distribution of pollution and in activist involvement in combating environmental hazards? How has changing food production and culture shaped health? This course assumes no previous coursework in the field, and students with a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines are encouraged to participate.


ANTHRO 309: Human Osteology

Knowledge of human osteology forms the basis of physical and forensic anthropology, bioarchaeology, paleoanthropology and clinical anatomy. This course will provide an intensive introduction to the human skeleton; particularly the identification of complete and fragmentary skeletal remains. Through this course you will be exposed to techniques for identification and classification of human skeletal anatomy through hands-on, dry laboratory sessions. Additional time outside of class is available and may be required to review practical materials.

ANTHRO 312: Human Population Biology

This course will provide an overview of current theory and research in human population biology. The course will focus on the influence of ecological and social factors on various aspects of human biology (e.g. metabolism, growth, nutritional status, disease patterns). The adaptation concept will first be presented, discussed, and critiqued. We will then examine how adaptation to different ecological stressors (e.g. temperature, solar radiation, high altitude, diet/nutrition) promotes human biological diversity.

ANTHRO 314: Human Growth and Development

Integrated biological and cultural perspective on human growth and development from infancy through adolescence; cross-cultural variation in developmental processes and outcomes.

ANTHRO 315: Medical Anthropology

Theories of interactions between culture and biology that affect human health. Beliefs and practices for curing illness and maintaining well-being. Cross-cultural study of infectious and chronic diseases, mental illness, infant/maternal mortality, poverty, and gender.

ANTHRO 320:  Peoples of Africa

A survey of the cultures of Africa and the significant similarities and differences among the indigenous societies of the continent.

ANTHRO 330:  Peoples of the World: Ethnography of North Africa

While North Africa (the Maghrib) is often considered an appendage of the Muslim Middle East, this Mediterranean region merits study on its own, given its French colonial past and its connections to both sub-Saharan Africa and Europe. This course introduces students to the region through text and expressive culture (visual culture and music). Required readings will include one book or its equivalent in articles per week, drawing from anthropology, related social sciences and humanities, and historical fiction. In-depth study of Amazigh (‘Berber') and rural populations will complement the study of Arab and urban populations in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya. Major themes include language and expression, orality and literacy, colonialism, nationalism, religion, migration, and gender. Assessments are based on active participation, weekly responses, discussion facilitation, and two synthesis papers bringing together the readings around a theme.

ANTHRO 332: The Anthropology of Reproduction

Marriage and reproduction throughout the world, particularly the developing world and Africa. Conjugal strategies fertility, contraception.

ANTHRO 354: Gender and Anthropology

Cross-cultural survey of women 's roles from three perspectives: biosocial, sociocultural, politico economic. Theory of gender inequality. Emphasis on the third world.

ANTHRO 368: Latina and Latino Ethnography 

This course will focus on cultural and political expressions and representations of Latinos/as in the US. We will draw from historical accounts, fiction, ethnographies, and media representations. We will consider how these forms of expression are used to represent U.S. Latina/o life. We will examine how ethnography works as a field method and as a form of communication. Our course will cover a broad range of areas and textual modes, so that we may do some comparative work.

ANTHRO 377: Psychological Anthropology

Contemporary approaches to cross-cultural behavior: ecocultural aspects of behavior development through maturation and socialization in human and nonhuman primates. Prerequisite: introductory survey courses in psychology or anthropology or consent of instructor. 

ANTHRO 386: Methods in Human Biology Research

Laboratory-based introduction to international research in human biology and health; methods for assessing nutritional status, physical activity, growth, cardiovascular health, endocrine and immune function. Prerequisite: 213 or consent of instructor.

ANTHRO 390: Nutritional Anthropology

The popular expression "You are what you eat" neatly underscores the importance of food for human beings. This course will examine how both biology and culture shape human variation in food consumption patterns and nutritional well-being in modern and past populations. We will begin by examining the basic principles of human nutrition. We will then explore how the forces of evolution have shaped our nutritional needs over the last 5 million years, and look at specific examples of how biology and culture interact to produce differences in food use patterns across different societies. Finally, we will examine recent controversies in human nutrition, including debates on what constitutes a "healthy" diet.

ANTHRO 390: Food Security & Sustainability

Food security is one of the wicked problems of our time, an issue so complex that it seems to defy resolution. One camp suggests that if only the world could produce more food, everyone could be fed. The other camp claims that we already produce more than enough food to feed the world's growing population, and that food insecurity arises from unequal access to resources. At the crux of these perspectives are different understandings of how we might achieve social and environmental sustainabilityshould we produce more or consume less? In this class, we'll approach these complex issues from a social and historical perspective rooted in anthropology. The first half of class will examine how chronic and severe food shortages arise by searching for their historical roots. The second half of class will focus on the different kinds of solutions that have been proposed to ameliorate food insecurity and achieve long-term food sustainability.

ANTHRO 390: Obstetrics in Cultural Perspective

This course examines obstetrics in historical perspective, through the lenses of sociocultural anthropology. It will exploit the cultural and historical distance that the subject provides to think beyond today's understandings, and toward broader views of fertility, the body, and science. Among the topics we will address: the contexts in which particular obstetric practices of care and intervention have arisen; variations in the personnel, instruments, and medicines involved in pregnancy and birth across time and place; the professionalization and popularization of obstetric knowledge and practice; changing views of obstetric populations and the risks they face; the evolution of particular personnel, preventions and remedies in obstetric practice; debates over naturalism vs pathology; power and inequality in obstetric care; and the relationship between the production of children and the reproduction of kin and society as a whole. Course readings and materials will come from a range of times and places: in particular, Western Europe, colonial and post-colonial Africa, and the American Midwest at the beginning of the 20th century. Readings will draw on outside disciplines (especially history, public health, medicine, and demography), but the course itself will be firmly grounded in the anthropology of reproduction.

ANTHRO 390: Evolutionary Medicine

Humans display great variation in many aspects of their biology, particularly in terms of physical growth and development, nutrition, and disease patterns. These differences are produced by both current ecological and environmental factors as well as underlying genetic differences shaped by our evolutionary past. It appears that many diseases of modern society, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and various cancers, have resulted from change to a lifestyle that is quite different from that of our ancestors. These diseases thus reflect an imbalance between modern life conditions and those which shaped most of our evolutionary history. This course will explore the evolutionary dimensions of variation in health and disease pattern among humans. We will first review key concepts in evolutionary biology, and their application to human evolution. We will then examine bio-cultural and evolutionary models for explaining variation in specific human diseases.

ANTHRO 390: The Human Microbiome and Health

Did you know that all the microbes on and in your body weigh as much as your brain? And they can influence your body almost as much as your brain? They can determine how much weight you gain on a certain diet or whether you develop the symptoms of an autoimmune disease, and they can even affect your mood and behavior. Although we have long known the importance of microbes in the context of disease, recent advances in technology have opened up an entirely new field of research that is transforming perspectives on human health. In this course, we will explore the human microbiome beginning with an overview of different types of microbes and the methods we use to study them. Following that, the majority of the course will be dedicated to exploring new research on the microbes of the skin, mouth, gut, and uro-genital tract and their impacts on human health. We will also consider the influence of geography, politics, social structures, and culture on global patterns in the human microbiome and health.

ANTHRO 390: Anthropology of Science

This upper-division seminar will introduce students to the anthropological study of science and the production of scientific knowledge. Drawing from ethnographies of laboratories and the facts and artifacts they produce we will study science as culture and a site of cultural production. The first half of the class will present several fundamental texts in the anthropology of science, while in the second half of the class, we will apply our conceptual tools to pertinent case studies of the present like: the scientific production of the concept of race and racialized behavior; biomedical research and technologies that alter and remake what counts as life, gender/sex, and the human; the production of evidence, facts, doubt, and alternative facts in the new Trump presidency. For their final assignment, students may conduct a "lab ethnography" or propose a detailed study on the production of a scientific fact.

ANTHRO 390: Sex & Surveillance

Scopophilia is the derivation of pleasure from looking. What pleasures does the surveillance state gain from looking at us? From feeling and documenting us? How do privacy activists fight back against such surveillance, and what might be wrong with privacy rights discourse? Which groups are always already surveilled? In this class, students will play with notions of surveillance—including sousveillance, lateral surveillance, and counter surveillance—as engaged by queer and feminist studies, the cultural anthropology of expertise, and social studies of science and technology. We will draw on case studies ranging from police technologies, facial recognition software, PornHub's data collection projects, TSA airport body scanners, Facebook ads, science fiction like Black Mirror, and more to understand how bodies, races, genders, and sexualities are made known and contested by activists, artists, corporations, and governments. Students will also collect data for a creative personal surveillance project culminating at the end of the quarter.

ANTHRO 390: Dietary Decolonization

In response to the negative social effects of globalization and industrialization on the contemporary food system, there has developed increased attention to questions of sustainability, food justice, and food sovereignty. While such concepts are useful for thinking about liberatory food futures more generally, they often draw upon foundational Indigenous concepts without directly naming them as such. This course, then, focuses on new discourses about food sovereignty by highlighting (rather than obscuring) the linkages between decolonial or sovereign food futures and histories of erasure and dispossession of Native peoples. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, course readings draw from the fields of Food Studies, Indigenous Studies, and Pacific Island Studies in the form of academic articles, cookbooks, short film, and poetry. Throughout, we will question the potentialities of food sovereignty within the settler state, whether dietary decolonization is possible in the so-called age of the Anthropocene, and the limits of working within and against today's legacies of the colonial food system.

Asian American Studies

ASIAN_AM 360: Studies in Race, Gender, and Sexuality: Transgender Surgeries in Transnational Contexts

This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, medical, and commercial online discourses concerning the burgeoning GCS-related surgeries (Gender Confirmation Surgery) presented online and conducted in Bangkok, Thailand. Using "Trans," and Critical Race Theories, we will discuss the cross-cultural intersections, dialogues, refusals, and adaptions when thinking about medical travel to Thailand for gender/sex related surgeries. We will examine Thai cultural/historical conceptions of sex and gender, debates concerning bodies and diagnoses, and changes in presentations of sex/gender related surgeries offered online. Asian American Studies, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering SRS surgeries to Thailand produced by Thais for western clientele will serve as axes for investigating this topic.

Biological Sciences

BIOL_SCI 355: Immunobiology

The immune system is the primary defense mechanism of vertebrates against invading pathogenic organisms. This cellular system has the remarkable ability to recognize as foreign any material which is not normally a constituent of an individual's own tissues. This includes not only bacteria, viruses, and tumor cells when they express modified or new proteins, but nearly all compounds from a chemist's shelf - natural and synthetic. The immune system confronts this vast universe of foreign materials, referred to as antigens, by synthesizing an equally vast array of proteins each of which can bind to one antigen, and by so doing eliminate it. How this array of antigen-receptors is generated, how the genes which encode these are organized, the strategies adopted by the immune system to specifically activate the cells which bear the receptors and fastidiously eliminate self recognition are addressed in this course.

BIOL_SCI 380: Biology of Cancer

This course is focused on the molecular/cellular mechanism underlying cancer initiation and progression. Students are expected to have a thorough understanding of molecular and cell biology before taking this class. Various mechanisms controlling cell proliferation, signal transduction, DNA damage repair, cell fate decisions and cell-cell communications will be discussed. Topics will also include nature/hallmarks of cancer and current strategies for cancer treatment. The goal of this course is to have a rich intellectual exchange of ideas while taking an in depth look at the molecular causes of cancer.

Biomedical Engineering

BMD_ENG 343: Biomaterials and Medical Devices

BMD_ENG 395: Medical Devices, Disease & Global Health

Business Institutions

BUS_INST 394: Lessons in Nonprofit Management

This course brings together students from a variety of academic disciplines and leverages their diverse talents in the field to consult nonprofits facing organizational challenges in addressing issues such as poverty, homelessness and education. Bridging the divide between academic experience and civic engagement, teams of five undergraduate students have the opportunity to work on ten-week engagements with nonprofits under the supervision of Kellogg MBA students.

Chicago Field Studies

CFS 392: Field Studies in Public Health

Field Studies in Public Health was developed for students interested in health-related fields, including public health, medicine, and health policy. In this course, students will learn the broad definition of Public Health and its history, and will explore the complexity of this field by examining current public health issues such as food safety, gun violence, and healthcare reform. The course will provide students an opportunity to consider how the theory and ideology of public health square up with the practice of this field at their internship sites.

Chemical Engineering

CHEM_ENG 373: Biotechnology and Global Health

Current problems in public and environmental health, such as the worldwide burden of major infectious diseases, emergence of new pathogens, and environmental reservoirs of infectious organisms.

Civil and Environmental Engineering

CIV_ENV 361: Public and Environmental Health

Current problems in public and environmental health, such as the worldwide burden of major infectious diseases, emergence of new pathogens, and environmental reservoirs of infectious organisms. Prerequisite: 361-1 or consent of department

Communication Studies

COMM_ST 343: Health Communication

Examination of how communication can enhance and maintain the wellbeing of citizens in intentional health care contexts. 

COMM_ST 367: Nonprofit Communication Management

This course focuses on the management of nonprofit organizations. Topics include (a) the dynamics of the social sector, (b) identifying stakeholders, (c) governing and leading nonprofit organizations, (d) communication strategies for enhancing capacity, (e) organizational assessment, and (f) obtaining and managing resources. This year, students will self select into teams working on specific identified projects for clients. 

COMM_ST 394: Persuasion in Health Contexts

This course provides a general introduction to theory and research concerning health-related persuasion, especially in the context of health communication campaigns. The course covers leading theoretical frameworks that have guided health persuasion research and practice (e.g., the transtheoretical model) and research concerning health communication campaigns (campaign planning, execution, and evaluation). Students will complete a substantial research paper and contribute to class discussion of readings. Some prior exposure to general persuasion theory and research (e.g., Communication Studies 205 or equivalent) will be essential.

COMM_ST 395: Health Communication and Precision Medicine

This course provides a general introduction to health communication as applied in the "era of precision medicine.”

COMM_ST 395: Difficult Conversations in Health

This course explores health communication from a design perspective. In this course students will explore factors that make conversations in health "difficult," and the possible strategies to overcome such difficulties. By the end of this course students should be able to critically examine difficult conversations in health and have the skills to propose interventions to overcome them.

Comparative Literature

COMP_LIT 390: Special Topics in Comparative Literature: Sexual Dissidence & Activism in Latin America

The AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 1990s produced a new body and subjectivity. While the Global North experienced loss, mourning and activism for retroviral therapy, in the Global South too there was an emergency for viral knowledge and political recognition/inclusion. This course looks to situate the AIDS epidemic in the Latin American historical context while, at the same time, introducing its aesthetic manifestations.


ECON 307: Economics of Medical Care

Health care constitutes some 15 percent of GDP in the U.S. Why has this GDP share tripled over the past half-century? Why is insurance so important in health care? What forms does insurance take in health care markets? Why has the technology of health care changed so dramatically, and what are the consequences? What forms of health care "should" and should not be provided, and why? How should "quality" be measured in health care, and why is its measurement important? How should health care be financed, and how does the choice of finance mechanism affect the economy? Has the cost of health care really risen dramatically? Why is the health care sector regulated so heavily -- e.g., pharmaceuticals, hospitals, and nursing homes--and what are the regulatory issues? Why is so little known about the safety and efficacy of herbal medications, and does that have anything to do with economic forces? Why do doctors no longer make house calls? Why are nonprofit organizations so important in health care? Is prevention really cheaper than cure?

ECON 326: The Economics of Developing Countries

This course examines causes of poverty and underdevelopment, and their implications for economic growth and individuals' well-being. The focus of the course is on microeconomic issues relating to markets, firms and households in developing countries. We will ask such questions as "Why do the poor borrow at higher interest rates than the rich?", "Do the poor under-invest in education and health?", and "How can public policy be used to improve the well-being of people in developing countries?" Topics include financial access, health and nutrition, education, insurance, migration and the role of institutions in development. We will also emphasize the interlinkages between the topics discussed in the course, for instance: How does investment in health depend on access to savings and credit? Does the presence of informal insurance affect how government education policies should be evaluated? Do the consequences of improved migration opportunities depend on how well credit markets function? We will combine economic theory and empirical analysis using data from developing countries to investigate these questions.

ECON 359: Economics of Nonprofit Organizations 

The economic rationale for the non-profit sector in a mixed economy. Topics include the objectives and behavior of non-profit organizations, competition with commercial firms, volunteerism, and charitable donation. 

Engage Chicago

Health & Medicine Concentration

The Engage Chicago: Health & Medicine Concentration consists of a series of weekly seminars and field experiences that help students explore contemporary issues and prospective careers in medicine, public health, health policy, and other related fields. The goal of this track is to leverage the assets of the city of Chicago to help students understand the realities of individual health in the context of the U.S. healthcare system. This 8-­-week program will examine several contemporary challenges in the healthcare sector as well as innovative efforts to improve individual and community health.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

ENTREP 395: Innovate for Impact

Environmental Policy and Culture

ENVR_POL 390: Special Topics in Environmental Policy and Culture: International Environmental Politics

Environmental problems that transcend national borders, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss, climate change, and ocean governance, are amongst the most intractable challenges facing our global community. Collective action problems are pervasive in negotiations and attempts to address, monitor, and enforce international environmental agreements are often weak. Yet, despite these constraints, international actors have designed and secured agreement in a variety of policy arenas, aiming to improve global environmental governance. The purpose of this course is to understand how, why, and when the international community is able to overcome collective action problems and effectively address global environmental challenges. We begin by first analyzing the structures, agents, and processes affecting international environmental politics. In the second part of the course, we will conduct an extended negotiation simulation to explore how politics plays out. By doing so, we will identify some knowledge gaps that impede our understanding about the role of international institutions and actors in affecting positive environmental change. Requirements include active participation, discussion papers, a position paper, and role playing. The class is designed at the advanced undergraduate student level. While there are no formal pre-requisites, students who have had no previous courses in public policy or political science should be prepared for a more challenging semester. As an advanced liberal arts seminar, the class is reading and writing intensive and developing critical thinking and writing skills is a fundamental objective. Finally, active participation in class discussions is essential and will be expected of all students. Students with concerns about these expectations should speak with me before enrolling.


ENGLISH 385: Introduction to Medical Humanities

The doctor-patient relationship is founded on storytelling. Whether you hope to become a healthcare provider or not, the medical experience requires a kind of narrative literacy. Both physicians and patients must grapple with narrative expectations (such as notions of causal sequence, symbolism, and closure) when conferring on medical decisions. As a group of future doctors, nurses, caregivers, and patients, we will explore what kinds of stories congregate around Western conceptions of the medical experience. We will approach this task with a multi-disciplinary lens, examining the history of medicine, medical ethics, religious practices, and narrative theory. We will pair contemporary theoretical and non-fiction works on illness with various kinds of narratives designed to communicate a patient’s perspective. We will analyze the distinctive opportunities for immersion in stories about illness offered by different genres and media, including personal essays, poetry, films and even a cancer-themed video game. Finally, we will debate the limits of narrative in medical practice—as in communicating the unique cognition of autism, the experience of physical pain, or the process of dying.

ENGLISH 385: Topics in Combined Studies: Oil Slicks, Ailments, and Inkwells: Literatures of Environmental Medicine

Emphysema, lead poisoning, and other pollutant-inflicted diseases demonstrate that our exploitation of the natural world endangers not just polar bears and pollinators but people, as well. This is not, however, a realization as recent as the Paris Accord or the Flint water crisis. For hundreds of years, scientists, physicians, and even poets have described the volatile, sometimes sickening interactions among pollution, the environment, and the human body. And so, in addition to modern pathologies of toxicity, students in this course will explore historical literary depictions of bubonic plague, smallpox, and even spontaneous combustion as they theorize the medical consequences of human pollution. We will see that even historically distant authors like Thomas Dekker, Charles Dickens, and Margaret Atwood all write with an eye toward environmental justice and medical access for society's most ailing members—human, animal, and botanical alike.

Gender Studies

GNDR_ST 332: Gender, Sexuality, and Health: Anthropology of Reproduction

The goal of sociocultural anthropology, the largest subfield of anthropology and the core of the discipline, is to understand the dynamics of human variation in social action and cultural thought. A key question is how these variations are produced and reproduced, whether we speak of society (subsistence, ideas) or individuals (biology, psychology, social identity). Conversely, what happens when reproduction fails to occur, or does so under undesirable conditions? Because reproduction is so strongly associated with biology in our society, viewing it through a cultural lens poses significant challenges to some of our most basic tenets. Tensions arise in questions of agency vs. control, nature vs. culture, identity construction, authenticity, technology, surveillance, and power. Needless to say, the study of reproduction offers a window into the heart of anthropology itself. The course seeks (1) to expose students to just a few of the many sociocultural approaches to reproduction by ranging broadly across topics, time, and place; and (2) to identify and evaluate concepts and theories embedded in writings on the dynamics of reproduction. While the concept of "reproduction" can refer to societal reproduction, emphasis will be on the reproduction of children. To this end, possible topics may include fostering/adoption, AIDS orphans, fatherhood, technologies of fertility control, assisted reproduction, obstetrics, gender imbalances in Asia, debates over abortion, etc. 

GNDR_ST 332: Gender, Sexuality, and Health: Health Activism 

Topics include: Sexuality, Biomedicine, and HIV; Gender, Sexuality, and Health Activism; Gender, Sexuality, and Medicine; Public Helath and its Discontents; Gender, Sexuality, and Technoscience. 

GNDR_ST 341: Transnational Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality: Medical Tourism and Sex

This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, and medical, and commercial online discourses concerning the burgeoning Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) medical surgeries presented on the world wide web and practiced in Thailand. Using “Trans” theories: transgender, transnational, translation, spatio/temporal, we will discuss the intersections, dialogues, refusals and adoptions when thinking about medical tourism to Thailand. We will examine Thai cultural/historical conceptions of sex and genders, debates concerning bodies and diagnosis that took place during the drafting of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), International SRS Standards of Care (to be drafted in BKK during the WPATH meeting in February 2014), and changes in presentations of sex/gender related surgeries offered online. Comparative cultural studies, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering SRS surgeries to Thailand produced by Thais for western clientele will serve as axes for investigating this topic.

GNDR_ST 341: Transnational Perspectives on Gender and Sexuality: Global Masculinities

This course is situated at the intersection of theoretical, cultural, medical, and commercial online discourses concerning the burgeoning GCS-related surgeries (Gender Confirmation Surgery) presented online and conducted in Bangkok, Thailand. Using "Trans," and Critical Race Theories, we will discuss the cross-cultural intersections, dialogues, refusals, and adaptions when thinking about medical travel to Thailand for gender/sex related surgeries. We will examine Thai cultural/historical conceptions of sex and gender, debates concerning bodies and diagnoses, and changes in presentations of sex/gender related surgeries offered online. Asian American Studies, medical discourses, and an archive of web images offering SRS surgeries to Thailand produced by Thais for western clientele will serve as axes for investigating this topic.


HISTORY 300: New Lectures in History - "Global History of Death and Dying" 

Does death have a history? This course explores the changing realities of, attitudes towards and ways of coping with death drawing on examples from Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Latin America and the United States. We will look in particular at the role of death in shaping the modern world via the global slave trades, imperial conquest, pandemics, wars and genocides. In addition, we will explore the more complicated issue of the changing ways people have made sense of death, both in extraordinary circumstances as well as during calmer times. We will examine long continuities and transformations in rituals relating to death, intellectual and philosophical debates about the personal and social meanings of death, and the political and intimate consequences of particular ways and patterns of dying.

HISTORY 300: New Lectures in History - "Sickness & Health Latin America" 

In 1492 the New World became a crucible for the exchange of diseases, medications, and healing practices of American, European, and African origin. This course explores change and continuity in the healing arts and sciences in Latin America and the Caribbean in the centuries since. A key angle of inquiry will be the ways global frameworks help to make sense of local practice and how local knowledge informed national, hemispheric, and Atlantic developments in public health and medicine. Topics include Aztec medicine and conceptions of the human body; the "Columbian Exchange" of diseases, animals, and pharmaceuticals; the global commodification of American botanical knowledge (anti-syphilitics and anti-malarials such as Peruvian bark); Catholicism, shamanism, and other ritual frameworks for healing; modern disease eradication campaigns; and medical pluralism in Latin America today.

HISTORY 300: New Lectures in History - "Science and Religion" 

HISTORY 376: Global Environments and World History

HISTORY 392: Colonial Medicine in Asia: India, China, Japan and Southeast Asia

Examines the attempt to introduce western medicine into the nations of Asia in the past four centuries. We will consider both the efforts of colonial officials as well as those of individuals and organizations (missionaries, private foundations, adventurers), from the era of the Jesuits to the WHO and Médecins sans Frontières. We will read both indigenous and European accounts of epidemics, medical travails, eugenics, women‚s health, and social outreach programs to understand how the colonial setting shaped scientific and medical exchanges. In examining medical conflicts, we will question assumptions about universal definitions of health and disease. We will see in these readings issues relevant to our current medical debates: Is health a public or private matter? What role do sociocultural values play in health care issues? What is the relationship between a medical system and a belief system?

HISTORY 392: Topics in History: Disease, Segregation and Empire in Colonial Africa

The course will discuss the various interpretations of disease by different actors and groups in select African countries, the influences of these interpretations on the control measures deployed to prevent or control epidemics, and, with specific reference to segregation as a preventive/control option, analyze the rationale, history and changing nature of segregation in colonial urban Africa. Overall, the course will show two thing using African examples. First, that disease is not just about medical facts but how these are socially and politically constructed. Second, that in the context of European colonial expansion and dominance abroad, medicine was an important 'tool of empire'.

HISTORY 392: Topics in History: Weather and Climate in History

Packed with volcanos, "little" ice ages, and fierce debates about scientific efforts to model the most irregular of natural phenomenon, this course explores the impact of weather and climate on historical trends in antiquity, the early modern period, and the modern period in Europe, America, and the Globe. It also traces the complicated science and politics of meteorology from the Enlightenment until the twentieth century. Finally, we will spend nearly a third of the course tackling this question: Can historical examples of global climate crises provide any sense of what the future holds, or, crucially, blueprint for public policy?

HISTORY 392: Topics in History: Intro to Critical Food Studies

What counts as food? Recent debates over the social and environmental consequences of Genetically Modified Organisms (sometimes called ‘Frankenfoods'), media buzz over alternative proteins like crickets, and the mainstream popularity of veganism have provoked a critical return to questions of edibility, the agency of our food, and ecological responsibility - all of which challenge normative, Western orientations towards consumption practices. This course examines cultural constructions of appetite and nourishment by asking: What are the processes through which humans have come to view plants and animals as food? How is edibility either celebrated or refused across time, space, and bodies? And most importantly, how are specific worldviews mobilized in understanding human encounters with the things that we eat? Taking Donna Haraway's landmark work "A Cyborg Manifesto" as a point of departure, cultural constructions of edibility will be explored by theorizing the food system as a vital and material force.

Industrial Engineering and Management Sciences

IEMS 365: Analytics for Social Good

This new university-wide course in humanitarian and non-profit logistics will explore the challenges and opportunities of achieving social good in the age of analytics. Students will work on interdisciplinary teams on a series of case studies that range in topic from advanced technology for disaster response and preparedness to improved decision-making frameworks for community-based health care providers. To assist in the understanding of these complex settings, the course will include guest speakers from local and national organizations, including the Manager of Operations Analysis and Disaster Dispatch at the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago and the Medical Director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

IEMS 385: Introduction to Health Systems Management

IEMS 385-0 Introduction to Health Systems Management Health systems, lean concepts, patient­flow analysis, infer­ ence, and data­driven knowledge generation, decisions, and change. Forecasting, operations, and optimization of health resources. Prerequisites: 303, 313.

International Studies

INTL_ST 390: Special Topics in International Studies - "Refugee Crises & Human Rights"

Crises of forced migration due to war, conflict, generalized violence, famine, development and climate change have highlighted the shortcomings of the human rights regime to protect against human suffering and abuses. In this course we examine the evolution of the international refugee regime in response to refugee crisis and the ways in which international human rights address the causes and consequences forced migration.


JOUR 372: International Journalism: South Africa

An introduction to South Africa, with a special focus on the country’s newspapers, magazines, and broadcast outlets. Students compare and contrast various aspects of South African and US life—especially the history of the HIV/ AIDS pandemic—and explore historical, political, and cultural connections between the two countries. Required for South Africa Journalism Residency. Prerequisites: 301 and junior standing for Medill students; consent of instructor for others. 

JOUR 383: Health and Science Reporting

Students gain in-depth knowledge of health and science issues while covering and writing stories related to health, science, and technology. Students are encouraged to take this course in conjunction with a non-Medill course complementing the subject matter. 

Latino / Latina Studies

LATINO 392: Topics in Latina and Latino Social and Political Issues: Decolonial Research Methodologies

The objective of this course is to explore the process of inquiry from the critical standpoints of peoples seeking to decenter dominant research models. In discussing different forms of knowledge, practices of producing knowledge, knowledge construction, and ways of sharing knowledge we will examine the (neo)colonial underpinnings of dominant research models to understand the ramifications of the influence they have in what is considered legitimate knowledge. We will put this analysis in conversation with communities/activists/scholars/artists who make critical interventions in how, why, and for whom processes of inquiry are carried out. Recognizing the tensions that emerge when politically engaged or activist-based research meets academic rigor, we will explore and discuss the ways and extent to which an academic scholar may engage with decolonizing research methods.


PHIL 326: Philosophy of Medicine

An exploration of a variety of issues that have arisen in medical practice and biological research and development, focusing particularly on the physician/patient relationship through a focus on a series of clinical cases. A central question involves the nature and objectives of medicine, and how the physician engages with that nature and pursues those objectives.

Political Science

POLI_SCI 380: Refugee Crises & Human Rights

Crises of forced migration due to war, conflict, generalized violence, famine, development and climate change have highlighted the shortcomings of the human rights regime to protect against human suffering and abuses. In this course we examine the evolution of the international refugee regime in response to refugee crisis and the ways in which international human rights address the causes and consequences forced migration.

POLI_SCI 390: The Politics of AIDS and Africa

This course will examine the place of Africa in the global response to HIV/AIDS and the politics of AIDS in African countries sorely afflicted by the epidemic.

Public Health

PUB_HLTH 302: Introduction to Biostatistics

The course focuses on the understanding of the concepts of descriptive and inferential statistics and the application of statistical methods in the medical and health fields. The topics include descriptive statistics, basic probability concepts, probability distributions, estimation, hypothesis testing, correlation, and simple linear regression.

PUB_HLTH 304: Introduction to Epidemiology

Introduction to epidemiology and its uses. Measures of disease occurrence, common sources and types of data, important study designs and sources of error in epidemiologic studies, and epidemiologic methods.

PUB_HLTH 391: Global Health Care Service Delivery

PUB_HLTH 490: Advanced Global Public Health

This course will provide an in depth exploration the current approaches to eradicating long-term social and economic inequalities in health outcomes around the world. We will begin with a review of the current state of global health, highlighting the areas of major gains since 2000, and current trends and emerging health challenges (e.g., chronic metabolic diseases, emerging/re-emerging infectious diseases). We will then directly examine the diverse strategies that have been used to improve health outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. These strategies range from biomedical interventions (e.g., vaccine campaigns, nutritional supplementation) to broader, macro-level approaches such as targeted cash transfers and agricultural reform. Drawing on detailed case studies, we will explore (a) the nature and structure of global health interventions, (b) the creation of successful partnerships for sustaining health outcomes, and (c) the importance of data collection and analysis for monitoring the effectiveness of program interventions.

School of Education and Social Policy

SESP 303: Designing for Social Change

Characteristics of successful programs in a variety of areas, including human development, education, social welfare, and health promotion. 

Social Policy

SOC_POL 304: Social Policy and the Human Services

Development of social policy for human services in the United States. Human service policies for education, mental health, physical health, prisons, income, and aging.

SOC_POL 311: Social Policy and the United States Health Care System

This course will introduce the student to the health care delivery system in the United States through a review of US health policy issues. A construct for review of major health policy issues will be introduced and current health policy issues will be examined through this lens. Special attention will be paid to health disparities for low-income and minority populations; and how policy decisions exacerbate or relieve these issues. Interactive lecture, focused discussions and class activities relevant to assigned readings and special topic areas will be the format for the course.


SOCIOL 305: Population Dynamics

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the field of population studies, also known as demography. Demography covers all of the factors related to changes in the size and characteristics of a human population. The topics that will be covered in the course include health disparities in the United States, the impact of AIDS on family life and longevity in Africa, migration patterns within and from Latin America, the reasons behind sex-selective abortions in Asia, and the implications of the current low birthrates in Europe.

SOCIOL 311: Food, Politics and Society

This course looks closely at how different social groups, institutions and policies shape the ways food is produced, distributed and consumed in different parts of the world, especially the United States, and the social and environmental consequences of such a process. We look at the dramatic growth of factory farming and the social and political factors lying behind such rise, and alternatives such as sustainable farming, Farmers' Markets, and local food. aspects of the food systems we examine, and the social actors and policies giving rise to such alternatives. 

SOCIOL 317: Global Development

This course explores the economic and social changes that have constituted "development," and that have radically transformed human society. The course focuses on both the historical experience of Europe and the contemporary experience of countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In the historical discussion, we explore the birth of the "nation state" as the basic organizing unit of the international system; the transition from agrarian to industrial economic systems; and the expansion of European colonialism across the globe. In our discussion of Africa, Asia, and Latin America, we consider the legacies of colonialism for development; the ways in which countries have attempted to promote economic development and industrialization; and issues of inequality and human welfare in an increasingly globally connected world.

SOCIOL 319: Sociology of Science

The idea that science has a history and exists in a social context may seem curious to some: we are taught, and the scientific method is thought to ensure, that scientific knowledge is objective and universal. But like other social institutions, science has rules and norms that dictate training and professionalization, the representation of findings and ideas, and minute practices in that can shape the big picture of what we know about the world. This course introduces students to the sociology of science, a field based on understanding how the natural and laboratory sciences are influenced by political and historical epochs, social identities, and cultural norms. The course has three broad aims: to introduce students to core literature in the history and sociology of science; to use case studies to better understand the social life of various scientific fields and innovations; and to apply our sociological imaginations to conceive possibilities at the limits of humanistic and social aspirations.

SOCIOL 325: Global and Local Inequalities

Inequalities on the global and local levels.

SOCIOL 336: Climate Change, Policy, and Society

Climate change is the worst environmental problem facing the earth. Sea levels will rise, glaciers are vanishing, horrific storms will hit everywhere. After looking briefly at the impacts of climate change on natural and social environments both in the present and near future, we then consider how to best reduce climate change and how to adapt to its impacts. Issues of climate justice, divides between the global North and South, social movements, steps taken in different countries and internationally, and the role of market and regulations are addressed. Climate change is a disaster, the worst environmental problem facing the earth: sea levels will rise, glaciers are vanishing, horrific storms will hit everywhere. What can be done to reduce climate change and to adapt to its impacts? Climate justice, divides between the global North and South, social movements, climate deniers, and the role of the market and regulations are addressed.

SOCIOL 355: Medical Sociology

This reading and discussion intensive course will focus on the sociology of medicine in the contemporary international context. How does biomedicine and health care work at the close of the 20th century? What is the nature of the doctor-patient relationship, and what roles do other players--advocacy groups, drug companies, governments, insurance companies--play in the processes of health care? How does biomedicine compare across countries? How do contemporary globalization processes influence the conduct of biomedicine and health care worldwide? The course will cover major concepts in medical sociology: the social shaping of disease, dynamics of the doctor/patient relationship, gender and race issues in medical care, structures of health care and medical institutions, regulation of biomedicine, patient activism, intellectual property issues, and the conduct of biomedical research--using US and international examples. Each broad theme will be explored through empirically rich case studies, from debates about stem cell research to the globalization of AIDS drugs, the birth of biotechnology to the discovery of the "gay gene".

SOCIOL 376: Mental Health and Society

This course offers a social scientific perspective on the professions and bodies of knowledge that make up the field of mental health -- the "psychological sciences" -- and experiences of health and illness. We will draw on historical, anthropological and sociological studies to understand how the psychological sciences have developed, how they have treated mental illness, and what kinds of influence they exercise in our everyday lives. We will also touch upon questions of stigma, race and gender, and non-Western contexts of mental illness.

SOCIOL 376: Sexuality, Biomedice & HIV/AIDS

Since the appearance of a "mysterious new disease" among gay men in the U.S., HIV/AIDS has been closely associated with sexuality. This is true not only because a large percentage of HIV-transmission occurs via sexual contact, but also because of close associations between sexuality and morality and what "kinds" of people and practices are said to be more likely to spread HIV than others. In this course, we draw upon scholarship in the social sciences and humanities to examine the interplay between HIV/AIDS and sexuality, with an emphasis on the role of science and technology. How did associations between sexuality, disease and morality shape what was known about the spread of HIV early in the epidemic? How have ongoing efforts to know, treat and prevent HIV shaped sexual practices and intimacies, and vice versa? Together, will consider the complex interplay of HIV, sexuality and science across a diverse array of topics, including: the politics of HIV-risk categorization; HIV-stigma and discrimination; social movements and access to treatment; sexual practices and intimacies; and new frontiers in HIV-prevention, among others.

SOCIOL 376: Experts, Society, and Politics

Do experts still matter? Why are experts facing a crisis of confidence in their ability to provide authoritative solutions to pressing problems of collective life, ranging from AIDS, ebola and autism epidemics to environmental and financial catastrophes such as global warming and the global financial crisis? How can experts regain their authority? This course will examine how expertise has become a key aspect of politics under modernity and why this made experts vulnerable to attacks as truthful figures of authority. We will study the role of the expert in the production of power, knolwedge and subjectivity from key historical and sociological perpsectives. Students will develop the critical thinking skills necessary to analyze the ways in which experts use their expertise to shape the world.


Study abroad elective courses

These courses, which count toward the Global Health minor, have been designed jointly by Northwestern and host-country faculty and are taught by faculty at our partner institutions abroad. Students can only receive two Global Health elective course credits for quarter programs.

CHINA: Public Health in China (Peking University)

This seminar provides an overview of the public health system and pressing health issues in China. Topics include: the organization of the public health system, important diseases in China, differences among regions in terms of prevalent disease and health delivery, main health problems of children, aging population, HIV/AIDS and SARS, violence, women's health, addiction (alcohol, drugs), changing patterns of nutrition, and environmental health.

CHINA: Traditional Chinese Medicine (Peking University)

This seminar presents an overview of the traditional health system in China and its holistic approach to healing. The seminar examines the role of traditional medicine in today's China and introduces the students to various theories and practices including: exercise, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and methods of diagnosis. Students also visit the Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital and an herbal medicine pharmacy, and participate in a herb gathering excursion to the mountains.

CUBA: GBL_HLTH 330-SA Public Health in Cuba (Instituto Superior de Arte)

This seminar explores the development of public health policies in Cuba since 1960 and their impact on health outcomes in an effort to identify some of these lessons

CUBA: GBL_HLTH 331-SA Health and Healing in Contemporary Cuba (Instituto Superior de Arte)

Through seminar classes and interaction with practitioners, patients, and scholars in a variety of settings, students will examine how society and culture influence health and disease in contemporary Cuba.

EUROPE: GBL_HLTH 311-SA Health Care Systems in Europe and the U.S. (Sciences Po)

This seminar provides students with an understanding of the various ways in which health care systems are organized in European countries, the problems they are currently facing, and the reforms that have been implemented or proposed at the national and European Union levels.

EUROPE: GBL_HLTH 312-SA Public Health in Europe: Issues and Policies (Sciences Po)

This seminar examines issues and debates on health policy in France and the European Union, including primary health issues, health insurance, health inequalities, HIV/AIDS and SARS, elderly care, and genetically modified organisms. Lectures are supplemented by visits to relevant sites such as the World Health Organization, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Ecole Nationale de Santé Publique (Rennes).

EUROPE: GBL_HLTH 313-SA International Organizations and Health: A Research Seminar (Sciences Po)

This is a regular research seminar where students design their team research projects, learn about research methodology, and discuss their research progress. At the end of the term, students present their research project to the class.

ISRAEL: GBL_HLTH 317-SA Public Health in Israel (Tel Aviv University) 

Public Health in Israel. Examines public and community health in Israel, the evolution of health services since early nationhood, and critical health issues, programs, and policies affecting Israeli populations. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Israel program.

ISRAEL: GBL_HLTH 318-SA Medical Management of Disasters and Mass Casualty Events (Tel Aviv University)

Medical Management of Disasters and Mass Casualty Events. Examines and applies methods for medical preparedness, response, and recovery in cases of disasters and mass casualty events in Israel and worldwide. Restricted to students in Northwestern’s Israel program.

MEXICO: Public Health in Mexico (Universidad Panamericana)

This seminar consists of a series of lectures by Mexican medical faculty and public health officials. Lectures examine a variety of issues facing the Mexican health care system, including health policy and the role of the state, violence, diabetes, malnutrition, environmental health, infectious diseases and alcoholism.

MEXICO: Research Seminar: Public Health in Mexico (Universidad Panamericana)

This seminar introduces students to the methodology of public health research. Students design their team research projects on Public Health in Mexico, and discuss their research progress and difficulties. At the end of the term, students present their research project to the class.

SERBIA & BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: GBL_HLTH 390-SA-20 Public Health and Mental Health in Serbia (University of Belgrade)

Local public health and medical scholars and practitioners will introduce students to the healthcare systems and policies of Serbia; the impact of war and the “transition” from socialism to market-based economic policies on public health; and pressing current health policy debates and public health challenges. In addition, the course will cover key mental health challenges in Serbia and how they are being addressed in policy and clinical practice. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers.

SERBIA & BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA: GBL_HLTH 390-SA-21 Public Health and Mental Health in Bosnia-Herzegovina (University of Sarajevo)

Students will explore the contemporary healthcare systems and policies of Bosnia-Herzegovina under the guidance of a range of local health scholars and practitioners from academic institutions, healthcare services, and nongovernmental organizations. The course will consider themes introduced to students in Serbia, including the long-term effects of war, humanitarian aid, and the “transition” from socialism to capitalism on public health. In addition, the course will explore mental illness and mental health care in Bosnia in depth, including challenges related to war trauma and post-traumatic stress. The course will feature guided site visits to hospitals and primary care centers and meetings with key public health policy-makers, and students will also have the opportunity to engage in supervised field activities under the auspices of the psychosocial services NGO Wings of Hope.

SOUTH AFRICA: GBL_HLTH 315-SA Public Health in South Africa (Stellenbosch University)

This seminar presents an introduction and overview of the public health system in South Africa and the major health issues. Topics include: the organization of the public health system, the most important diseases in South Africa, differences among regions in terms of prevalent disease and health delivery, main health problems of children, aging population, HIV/AIDS and educational campaigns, prevention, violence, women's health, addiction (alcohol, drugs), changing patterns of nutrition, and environmental health.

SOUTH AFRICA: GBL_HLTH 316-SA Development Perspectives on Health in South Africa through Community Engagement (Stellenbosch University)

The course uses a sociological and social anthropological approachto understand tensions between economic and health policies and the ways in which they have influenced society and the state in the post-apartheid era. The focus is on the impacts of health-related issues on development, including HIV/AIDS, malnutrition and poverty, environmental health, occupational health, gender, and child development.

SOUTH AFRICA GHT: BME 388-SA Healthcare Technology in Resource Poor Environments (University of Cape Town)

This course provides an introduction to health systems in the context of disease burden, with special emphasis on developing countries and the devices and drugs used to combat diseases there. Site visits to hospital departments and community institutions are an integral part of the course.

SOUTH AFRICA GHT: BME 389-SA Healthcare Technology Assessment and Planning (University of Cape Town)

Students learn formal concepts and methodologies used in health-technology planning, assessment, and adoption for cost-effective healthcare delivery.

SOUTH AFRICA GHT: BME 391-SA Healthcare Technology Innovation and Design (University of Cape Town)

This course covers principles and practice of medical device design for the developing world. Working in teams, students will evaluate user needs within the context of under-resourced segments of the South African healthcare system and develop a design project using appropriate technologies.

SOUTH AFRICA GHT: GBL_HLTH 314-SA Health and Community Development in South Africa (University of Cape Town)

This course explores health-related issues confronting South Africa, their social and economic impact, and efforts to address them, particularly within the context of apartheid and post transition policies. Students will learn about demographics, prevention, and treatment of both infectious and chronic noncommunicable diseases.

TANZANIA: GBL_HLTH 310-SA Supervised Global Health Research: Field Research in Public Health, Tanzania

Under the supervision of Professor Noelle Sullivan, research teams of Northwestern and University of Dar es Salaam students will design and implement projects that address Arusha’s pressing health concerns. Students will gain experience in the field application of qualitative research methods and explore ethical issues in qualitative research. Through their projects, seminar discussions, and guided public health site visits, students will engage with the complex landscape of health and healing in Tanzania’s rural and urban environments while confronting the opportunities and challenges of conducting research in a low-income country.