Courses

The course descriptions below are correct to the best of our knowledge as of April 2015. Please note that courses numbered SPH IH XXX are numbered SPH GH XXX as of fall 2015. Instructors reserve the right to update and/or otherwise alter course descriptions as necessary after publication. The listing of a course description here does not guarantee a course’s being offered in a particular semester. The Course Rotation Guide lists the expected semester a course will be taught. Please refer to the published schedule of classes for confirmation a class is actually being taught and for specific course meeting dates and times. In addition to the courses listed in the Bulletin and courses approved after April 1, SPH degree candidates may register for a directed (independent) study with a full-time SPH faculty member. For more information, speak with your faculty advisor or a staff member in the SPH Registrar’s office.

  • SPH GH 715: Antiretroviral Program Management and Adherence Issues in Low Resource Settings
    Graduate Prerequisites: For advanced MPH students who have completed > 16 credits
    Successful HIV/AIDS treatment programs rely on consistent, uninterrupted supplies of antiretrovirals (ARVs), appropriate ARV prescribing, retention of patients in treatment programs, and a high level of adherence by patients. Ineffective ARV management can lead to treatment failures, ARV resistance, and insufficient program uptake. This course provides students with practical knowledge and skills to manage challenges in the areas of ARV selection, pricing, quality, and program monitoring and evaluation. Guest lecturers with relevant expertise will be invited to speak on several specific topics. One session will be devoted to a field visit to an adherence clinic to learn directly about the ARV program management issues faced by practitioners and patients.
  • SPH GH 720: Social and Behavioral Sciences in Global Health
    Public health professionals know what behaviors contribute to health; however, they know less about why people fail to adopt healthy practices. This course is based on the premise that the more we understand about why people behave the way they do, the more successful we will be as we develop and implement programs and policies designed to improve health. This course uses psychology, sociology and anthropology to improve our understanding of the determinants of health behavior and will provide an introduction to a variety of health behavior theories and basic qualitative research methods. Our intent is to develop practical strategies for understanding the social and behavioral foundations of public health, enabling us to plan effective interventions. Working individually and in groups, students will use conceptual frameworks such as BEHAVE to help identify a public health problem, select a target audience, conduct basic qualitative research to determine facilitators and barriers to engaging in a given practice, and propose several behavior change and communications (BCC) strategies based on an assessment of the situation. GH720 meets the MPH core course requirement in social and behavioral sciences for Global Health concentrators and international, nonresident students who are not SB concentrators. Students may not take both GH720 and SB721 for MPH degree credit.
  • SPH GH 722: Supply Chain Management for Improved Health System Performance
    Supply chain logistics is an important aspect of public health programs, and an area that is often unappreciated. The journey from manufacturer to a patient in a remote rural village in Africa is complicated and fascinating serious management challenge. This course provides a practical introduction to the core tenets of health commodity supply chain management (SCM), including system design, assessment, quantification, procurement, inventory management, and logistics management information systems. Using the "Access Framework," students will gain foundational knowledge and apply that knowledge in class exercises, discussions, case studies, and stakeholder interactions. Course assignments will have a strong experiential component with a focus on professional level communications and analytical skills.
  • SPH GH 735: Gender, Sexuality, Power, and Inequity in Global Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH core course requirement in Social and Behavioral Sciences; may take the classes concurrently.
    This course explores the socio-cultural, economic and political contexts in which people live their lives and how these, and local and large-scale forces of structural violence (inequity, marginalization and gender discrimination) impact health and development. Course readings and discussions examine how these forces constitute immediate and fundamental risk factors and must therefore be considered and addressed as part of any effort to improve public health. Course format: seminar with topics introduced by professor and guest lecturers.
  • SPH GH 741: Global Health Consultation Techniques
    This course will prepare students for consulting and technical assistance assignments in developing countries. Students learn to analyze the pros and cons of potential consulting assignments and prepare proposals. The potential conflicts between donors/sponsors and the agency receiving the consulting services will be considered. Assignments considered include financial analysis, operational improvements, training and program evaluation. Cross cultural issues and the problems of operating in remote areas are discussed. This course is for foreign nationals returning to their own countries and US citizens/residents who will seek international assignments with USAID contractors or NGOs. During this intensive one week course, students prepare a proposal in response to an actual RFP (Request for Proposal) as well as a presentation summarizing findings of a major consulting or research assignment.
  • SPH GH 743: Implementing Health Programs in Developing Countries: Making Programs Work
    Graduate Prerequisites: For advanced MPH students (>16 credits completed). Recommend completion of GH704 or GH744 prior to taking GH743.
    As professionals working in low and middle income countries, we often end up running programs we did not design, which are under-financed, and which face enormous implementation challenges. In this course, students will work with a specifically identified health program that is currently being implemented and conduct systems analyses, undertake problem solving exercises, and propose solutions to real implementation challenges in the field. Ultimately they will be able to prioritize the interventions necessary to effectively run a complex health program in such diverse situations as urban slums and dispersed rural areas in developing countries and be prepared to plan the actions to effectively run those programs. This course is directed towards students in the health management emphasis area and is not suitable for students in their first semester of studies. Students who will particularly benefit from this course are foreign nationals returning to their own countries and U.S.citizens or residents who will provide technical assistance through NGOs or other agencies to implement existing health programs.
  • SPH GH 744: Program Design for Global Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: Pre-reqs: the MPH epidemiology and biostatistics core courses. Students cannot take both GH744 and GH887.
    Developing a structured approach to program design is an important skill for public health professionals. IH744 provides an opportunity to learn and apply the key steps of program design. The course invites students to work with an international non-governmental organization to design a public health program. The non-governmental organization will orient student consultant teams with a scope of work that will contain guidelines for developing a program for the organization and identifying prospective donors for funding. To complete the scope of work, each team will identify and describe a relevant public health problem and apply evidenced based solutions to address the problem(s). Course work will also sharpen the knowledge and the skills required for working effectively in a team and students will learn to reflect on individual and team performance. Students will be introduced to e-portfolio and will use it to document their knowledge and skills in program design.
  • SPH GH 745: Monitoring and Evaluation of Global Health Programs
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH biostatistics and epidemiology core course requirements. Students should have completed 30 credits or more in the MPH program.
    here is consensus within the global public health community that inadequate project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) represents a major constraint in programmatic efforts to address the problems we face. The absence of sound M&E processes in large numbers of public health projects, despite continued evidence of their value in assessing and improving project performance, suggests that many project planners and managers may not yet have the necessary skills or understanding to develop and operate such systems. This course is designed to help address this need. This course provides a detailed analysis of program monitoring and evaluation with an emphasis on public health and nutrition-related projects. By reading relevant literature and using case studies, students will gain an understanding of the language and tools of program evaluation. The course will focus both on theory and practical utilization, and will consist of presentations, discussions, and applied exercises involving the preparation and critiquing of monitoring and evaluation plans. The course has a required, non-credit lab that is scheduled in a different time slot than the class.
  • SPH GH 755: Managing Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Emergencies
    This course will provide students with a solid introductory understanding of disasters and complex emergencies and introduce practical responses and interventions. By the end of the course, students will be able to describe human and natural emergencies and their main causes, articulate and conduct public health assessments, prioritize needs, and plan immediate and long-term interventions. Class discussions will also focus on analyzing and anticipating the consequences of emergencies.
  • SPH GH 756: Analytical Methods for Pharmaceutical Systems Assessment
    Graduate Prerequisites: PH740 or consent of instructor
    This course aims to develop skills essential to assessing and evaluating pharmaceutical policy and the performance of pharmaceutical programs. Students will learn to develop a pharmaceutical country profile, analyze medicine prices and availability, apply technical guidelines, and use other assessment tools and methods in the pharmaceutical sector. Students will also develop skills to undertake a sampling exercise, use qualitative methods, and review and write technical reports. Students will use instruments which are already developed with a focus on implementation issues, analysis of data collected and awareness of strength and limitation of each method applied. The course will introduce students to the many resources which exist to help understand pharmaceutical sectors, and prepare them to work in a national or sub national pharmaceutical system.
  • SPH GH 757: Fighting Corruption Through Accountability & Transparency
    Corruption and lack of accountability in government are concerns in all countries, but they are especially critical problems in developing and transitioning countries where public resources are already scarce and corruption can cripple growth and development. In international health work, most public health practitioners will encounter corruption at some point and will need to make ethical and management decisions about how to work within corrupt systems and how to prevent corruption from occurring. This course is designed to introduce participants to the problem of corruption and provide them with skills for assessing vulnerabilities to corruption in the health sector. Topics covered include corruption risks in drug procurement and supply, medical conflicts of interest, informal payments, and financial corruption. Participants will acquire the confidence, knowledge, and skills needed to become effective advocates for anti-corruption strategies and health system reforms.
  • SPH GH 762: Essentials of Economics and Finance for Global Health
    This course is an introduction to the essential concepts and tools of health economics and financing with application to the particular challenges facing transitional and developing countries. The course does not assume prior training in economics and will provide an introduction to the conceptual underpinnings of health economics, highlighting those concepts that will be most useful in applied policy settings. Case studies will focus on practical application to current global health financing policy problems.
  • SPH GH 766: Sexual and Reproductive Health in Disaster Settings
    Of the millions of people displaced by armed conflict around the world, 65-80% are women and children. In recent armed conflicts, women have been the targets of exploitation, rape, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and other types of gender-based violence. These violent acts have implications on women?s reproductive health. This course will expose students to the issues affecting the reproductive and sexual health of women in conflict and post-conflict situations. The context of recent conflicts and their effects on women?s health will be analyzed. Other topics will include: common reproductive health morbidities in conflict situations, reproductive health assessments, programming, monitoring and evaluations, gender-based violence, and rape as a weapon of war. Specific examples will be drawn from the wars that occurred in former Yugoslavia, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Southern Sudan, and the ongoing war in Darfur, Western Sudan.
  • SPH GH 770: Poverty, Health, and Development
    Graduate Prerequisites: Successful completion of graduate or undergraduate courses in economics and statistics and a working knowledge of Excel software
    Poverty, Health and Development is an elective course for MPH students in Global Health and a core course for graduate students in the Global Development Policy Program at BU. The goal of this course is for students to explore the relationships between poverty, health, and development in low-income countries. While not primarily a methods course, methods in public health, economics, statistics, and quantitative impact evaluation will be introduced and used throughout the course.
  • SPH GH 773: Financial Management for Health Programs
    Health care managers must be prepared to talk about financial issues, analyze and interpret data, and make decisions using financial information. This course develops competencies in cost analysis, pricing, budgeting, and reading financial reports in international health settings where financial systems are weak and data not easily available. In addition to using principles of differential and full cost analysis, students gain skills in breakeven analysis and calculating mark-ups. Examples are drawn from hospitals, clinics, and revolving drug funds from developing countries.
  • SPH GH 777: Global Health Culminating Experience Seminar
    Graduate Prerequisites: GH concentrators with 24 credits or more completed; must be working on culminating experience
    This seminar course has two main purposes: first, to enable participants to respond to one another's work, examine issues in the writing process, make improvements from draft to draft, and complete a well-researched, well-argued concentration paper; second, to explore issues in global health that are the focus of their research and emerge with a greater understanding of the questions they raise for policy and practice. Papers go through three drafts, and students will have the opportunity to give and receive feedback in peer review sessions. Background readings and regular participation in class critiques and discussions are required. Students must be working on their culminating experience to be enrolled in the class.
  • SPH GH 781: Nutrition and Public Health in Lower Income Countries
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH709 or recent college- level course in biology with B+ or better grade AND basic knowledge of Excel.
    This course introduces students to public health nutrition in the developing world. Topics include 1) the major nutritional challenges facing low-income countries (including macro- and micronutrient deficiencies, HIV and infant feeding, nutrition in emergencies and obesity) 2) nutrition through the life cycle 3) potential causes of poor nutrition including health behavior, societal norms, and economic factors 4) innovative approaches to addressing undernutrition 5) monitoring and evaluation efforts to track changes in nutritional status and feeding behaviors, and 6) policy-level responses to malnutrition, especially among women and children. While some class time is devoted to clinical nutrition, equal emphasis is placed on behavioral and programmatic issues including successful community-based nutrition interventions, national and international responses to under-nutrition and how these can be coordinated. This course also briefly reviews the evidence base for each approach. By the end of this course, students will be able to broadly describe the literature on international nutrition and to use Excel to clean and analyze data on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices.
  • SPH GH 795: Global AIDS Epidemic: Social & Economic Determinants, Impact, & Responses
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH core course in social and behavioral science, completed or concurrent.
    AIDS is one of the most important pandemics and human development challenges of our time. This course explores the determinants and impacts of the AIDS pandemic and examines best practices in prevention, care and treatment and impact mitigation. Students will explore the relationship between human rights, gender and vulnerability to HIV; examine effective multi-sectoral responses; and evaluate the benefits and limitations of major multi- and bi-lateral AIDS initiatives. Students will also examine the major debates in the AIDS field and explore different, at times contradictory, perspectives.
  • SPH GH 800: Clinical development of a new medicinal: A case study about licensing a new vaccine for the developing world
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH core course requirements in biostatistics and epidemiology.
    Vaccines are arguably our most potent public health tools. The clinical development of a new vaccine is a massive undertaking, spanning many years, and typically costing hundreds of millions of dollars -- yet the process by which new vaccines are developed, tested, licensed, and used is poorly understood. In this course, students will participate in an extended simulation of the clinical development of a new vaccine. Students will design a Phase I through Phase III clinical development program; at each step, decisions the students take will influence future events, making the course highly iterative and flexible. The course is taught by an infectious disease specialist who recently led a clinical development team at Novartis Vaccines that led to licensure of a new meningococcal vaccine in over 33 countries. This course requires a substantial amount of time working in groups outside of the scheduled class time.
  • SPH GH 804: mHealth
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH Biostatistics core course and IH720. Students should also have completed or be enrolled in IH704.
    Located at the nexus of technology, informatics and public health, mHealth (defined as medical and public health practice supported by mobile devices, such as mobile phones, patient monitoring devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and other wireless devices) is rapidly emerging from its pilot stage to become an important component of public health programs. In this course, you will learn how to design, develop, implement and evaluate a mHealth program. You will learn the basic terminology of mHealth programs, how to develop, design and evaluate a mHealth intervention as well as learn the current state of the field and major international mHealth implementers. Using a theoretical base, you will also learn the technical skills of developing an application based on a case study that can be deployed and used on a mobile phone. This course is suited for students who are at least in their second semester and who are familiar or interested in learning more about how mobile technology intersects with the health sector.