Courses

The course descriptions below are correct to the best of our knowledge as of May 2014. 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 June 1, 2014, SPH, 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 IH 808: Research Proposal Development: A Practical Approach to Team Grant Writing
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH Epidemiology and Biostatistics core course requirements. Formerly IH760.
    The main objective of this course is to equip students to develop a research project in a developing country. The scope of the proposal can include baseline data collection for needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation of an existing program, or identification of predictors associated with health or disease outcomes. Students learn practical skills associated with writing a proposal including creating project objectives, sampling methods, calculating sample-size, developing a work plan and budgeting. Students work in teams throughout the semester to develop the proposal. Proposals from this class have successfully competed for funding.
  • SPH IH 811: Applied Research Methods in Global Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: The biostatistics & epidemiology MPH core requirements.
    The objective of this course is to teach student teams how to collect and analyze both quantitative and qualitative data to answer study questions. Student teams will conduct a research study with multiple research methods including a cross-sectional survey and their choice from a variety of qualitative methods. The scope of the research questions addressed will be limited to minimal risk research conducted with students on the Boston University Medical Campus in the space of a semester. Each team will design a questionnaire, administer it, and enter and analyze the data using EpiInfo or other statistical software. In conjunction with the cross-sectional survey, each team will also use some form of qualitative method, such as in-depth interviews or focus group discussions (FGD). The student teams will integrate the results of the cross-sectional survey and the qualitative research and present a report with findings and recommendations to their peers and faculty members. Students completing the course will have the skills to be able to collect and analyze data in a wide variety of settings.
  • SPH IH 820: Global Issues in Pharmaceutical Policy and Programming
    Pharmaceutical policies are changing rapidly in developing countries. Ensuring access, maintaining quality, and promoting rational drug use are the priorities. This course examines national drug policies, selection issues, medicine pricing and availability, financing, health insurance, donations, and the role of the private sector and approaches to improving drug use. The impact of global treaties and particularly the TRIPS agreement WTO and access to AIDS drugs will be addressed. The course will also examine the role of global and bilateral donor programs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The course will utilize a seminar format and will require substantial reading to prepare for small group discussions and activities.
  • SPH IH 854: From Data to Dashboards: Building Excel Skills to Support Health Program Decisions
    Graduate Prerequisites: Basic excel proficiency; for upper level MPH students.
    In these uncertain times, managers need, more than ever, to make sound decisions based on data. Good spreadsheet models are important tools in this process. Build your Excel "toolbox" by learning and applying robust formulas, graphing and dashboarding techniques, and data analysis in a wide range of real-world case study examples, such as cost and utilization analysis, estimation of revenues and expenses, and performance dashboards to monitor and evaluate performance of health interventions. Students will have the opportunity to build their own models to apply to a health service challenge of their choosing. This course is appropriate for upper level MPH students who have basic excel skills.
  • SPH IH 880: Confronting non-communicable diseases in the developing world: the burden, costs and health systems challenges
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH epidemiology and biostatistics core course requirements
    A combination of lower fertility rates and changing environmental factors and lifestyles has led to aging populations and epidemics of tobacco addiction, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, and other chronic ailments, aggravating the persisting burden of infectious diseases in the developing world. This advanced course aims at providing a thorough understanding of the risk factors, epidemiology, burden, and economic consequences of the most prevalent non-communicable diseases and the fundamental policy considerations regarding intervention strategies for their prevention and control in resource constrained settings. This overall goal will be achieved by marrying economic approaches with those of epidemiology, clinical medicine and public health.
  • SPH IH 881: Program Design for Global Reproductive and Perinatal Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH epidemiology core course AND SPH IH703 or IH704 or PM702. May take IH704 or PM702 concurrently.
    This course addresses the major reproductive and perinatal health problems facing communities around the world. We will focus on current strategies to address human reproduction, maternal health and the health of newborns. For each problem, we will consider the fundamental causes and possible solutions, including what works, what does not work and what is being tried. Topics will include maternal mortality, gender based violence, abortion, STIs, family planning and health of the newborn.
  • SPH IH 885: Global Trade, Intellectual Property and Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: For upper level MPH students with instructor consent or DrPH students
    On the broadest level, any person interested in international public health, needs to know about globalization and trade. Globalization rewards creative and technically skilled workers and places its largest pressures on lower-skilled workers. A specific example of globalization is that of India and their embrace of new intellectual property (IP) laws. The implementation of these IP and trade rules lies somewhere between outright opposition to reforming global IP rules and an unthinking acceptance that doing so will encourage biomedical innovation and improved health outcomes. The effects of stronger IP standards on health and innovation in medicines and diagnostics are ambiguous and thus need to be subjected to empirical analysis. This course will explore the complex and ambiguous relationship between global trade, intellectual property and its impact on public health.
  • SPH IH 887: Planning and Managing Maternal and Child Health Programs in Developing Countries
    This course provides a practical framework to enable students to design, manage, and evaluate services for children and women, with an emphasis on child health. The course covers the major health challenges with a focus on children and explores specific interventions to address these challenges. Topics covered include diarrheal disease, acute respiratory infection, immunization, malaria, micronutrient deficiencies, HIV/AIDS, safe motherhood and neonatal health. The final six weeks of the course will give students the opportunity to identify the technical, political, organizational, and environmental factors necessary for a successful program. Students will work in teams to respond to an RFP for improving the health of women, children, or newborns in a developing country. Teams will attend a bidder?s conference and then prepare and present a written and oral proposal to an outside grants committee. Students cannot take both IH744 and IH887 for MPH degree credit.
  • SPH IH 888: Seminar on Global Health Policy Issues
    Graduate Prerequisites: Advanced MPH (> 16 credits) or SPH doctoral students
    This seminar focuses on policy formulation related to public health problems in low- and middle-income countries and is intended for students who have some experience. How is policy formulated in different settings? Who sets the policy agenda? Why do some issues get the attention of policy-makers, while other equally important issues fail to gain traction? And what approaches can be used to improve the chances of a particular policy being adopted? Students will carry out a policy analysis on a policy issue of their choice, using the policy analysis approaches and tools presented in class.
  • SPH IH 943: Directed Study in Global Health for the Culminating Experience
    Graduate Prerequisites: Completion of at least 25 hours of approved coursework, approval by faculty advisor, and submission of required documents to the Global Health Department.
    Students who must complete a directed study for their Global Health Culminating Experience register for IH943 with their culminating experience advisor. Students who select Option Two, the journal article, must register for a 2-credit directed study. Other students may choose a 1-credit directed study if appropriate and approved by the Global Health Department. Registration in IH943 is via a proposal form and an add/drop form. Registration is not online.
  • SPH IH 950: Culminating Experience in Global Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: Registration is allowed after a student who completion at least 25 credits of approved coursework and has submitted the required paperwork to the Global Department.
    Zero-credit option for completing the required culminating experience in global health. Students may register in fall, spring, or summer. Students must select a culminating experience option, complete the required documents with the Academic Services Coordinator, and register online for the class. Registering accords the student part-time status. Students who do not finish their culminating experience in the semester in which they registered for IH950 must register for IH951 in the next semester.
  • SPH IH 951: Culminating Experience in Global Health, Part II
    Graduate Prerequisites: Registration in IH950 in prior semester.
    Students who do not finish their culminating experience in the semester in which they registered for IH950 must register for IH951 in the next semester. IH950 and IH951 are zero-credit options for completing the required culminating experience in global health. Students may register in fall, spring, or summer. Students must select a culminating experience option, complete the required documents with the Academic Services Coordinator, and register online for the class. Registering accords the student part-time status.
  • SPH LW 709: Healthcare Rationing: Medicine, Markets and Morals
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH health law core course requirement
    Although health care is rationed in a variety of ways in the United States, Americans, and American politicians in particular, make believe that rationing does not exist. Indeed, efforts at health care reform have often been criticized for leading to "rationing' health care resources, implying that rationing is something evil. The idea that all Americans get the health care they need or that we have limitless resources is obviously not so. What health care is available and to whom is the result of the often invisible choices policy makers make. This course critically explores the health care allocation choices that have been made and will be made in the future. It analyzes the advantages and disadvantages of various rationing methods, the values and moral judgments reflected in each, and the political and financial factors influencing the choice of approach, as well as who should make such choices. Examples of rationing to be discussed include the distribution of organs for transplantation, determining what constitutes "necessary" care under insurance schemes, the use of markets and lotteries as rationing methods, limitations on population screening, the use of age and "social worth" to limit health care to individuals, triage in emergencies, and the utility (or disutility) of cost-benefit analysis for making decisions about the availability and distribution of health care. By the end of the course, students will be able to articulate the range of possible rationing methods and to appropriately apply these methods to different scarce resource circumstances.
  • SPH LW 719: Essentials of Public Health Law
    Law is an essential tool for creating and implementing public health policies. The goal of this course is to enable students to understand how and when the law can be used to implement health policies and programs. It is designed for students who do not have prior experience or education in law and covers basic legal concepts and the process of decision making by legislative, administrative, and judicial bodies. Students learn how to construct oral and written arguments while analyzing how American law balances the rights of individuals with the interests of government and where appropriate analyzes the ethics of policy choices. By examining constitutional, common-law and statutory rights related to public health and health care students are prepared to compare such rights with those in other countries and in relation to the aspirational rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • SPH LW 725: Ethical Issues in Medicine and Public Health
    This course reviews the nature and scope of moral dilemmas and problematic decision making in public health, medicine, and health care. After a survey of ethical theory, the course focuses on a broad range of ethical concerns raised by the theory and practice of public health and medicine: the nature of health, disease and illness, health promotion and disease prevention; rights, access, and the limits of health care; the physician-patient relationship; truthtelling and confidentiality. Through a series of case studies, the course examines specific topics: the bioethics movement and its critiques; human experimentation; the role of institutional review boards; the concept and exercise of informed, voluntary consent; abortion, reproduction, genetic counseling and screening; euthanasia, death and dying; ethics committees; and international and cross-cultural perspectives.
  • SPH LW 739: Jewish Bioethics
    The aim of this course is to provide an introduction to resources for and approaches to Jewish biomedical ethics. Selected issues will be studied in some depth to develop the ability to interpret relevant primary sources and evaluate competing readings of these sources. Attention will be given to different approaches in interpreting and applying Jewish texts and values in addressing contemporary issues. We will then focus on medical ethics and the Holocaust. The historical experience of the Holocaust has had a major impact on contemporary Jewish ethicists. We will examine the relevance of the Nazi doctors, racial hygiene, euthanasia, and genocide for contemporary bioethics. The field of Jewish bioethics affords us the opportunity to explore the complex interface of philosophy, theology, halakha (Jewish law), and secular law and ethics. Students will also consider philosophical approaches in bioethics and their significance for Judaism. This course is taught with CAS RN 439/ GRS RN 739/ STH TX859 at Charles River Campus.
  • SPH LW 740: Health and Human Rights
    This course is appropriate for graduate, 4+1, and undergraduate students and is taught at the Medical Campus. Health is closely linked to the realization of human rights. Preventable illness, infant mortality, and premature death, for example, are closely tied to societal discrimination and violation of human rights. This course explores the relationship between human rights and health by examining relevant international declarations in historical context, exploring the meaning of "human rights" and "health," and analyzing specific case studies that illuminate the problems, prospects, and potential methods of promoting health by promoting human rights on the national and international levels.
  • SPH LW 751: Public Health Law
    This course introduces students to the legal system and to major legal issues and problems confronting the public health professional. By analyzing judicial decisions, students learn about legal analysis and conflict resolution and avoidance. Thus they learn to see the legal system as a tool that can be used to advance, rather than impede, the implementation of specific public health policies. Topics covered include state public health powers, federal activity in public health, medical malpractice, privacy and confidentiality of medical information, mental health law, abortion and sterilization, patients' rights, emergency medical care delivery, legal status of allied health professionals, human experimentation, and rights of the terminally ill. This course is a prerequisite for most other Health Law courses. Students who take this course cannot take LW719 for degree credit. Health Law concentrators must complete this course to fulfill the health law MPH core requirement.
  • SPH LW 799: Research with Human Subjects: Fundamental Legal and Ethical Principles
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH core course in Health Law, Bioethics and Human rights or enrollment in an MS or doctoral program or permission of instructors
    This seminar course prepares students for complex legal and ethical issues they will encounter when designing and conducting clinical, social science or epidemiological research with human beings. Through readings, class discussions, writing assignments and a class exercise, students develop skills in interpreting and applying federal regulations and ethical principles to contemporary research circumstances. This class is appropriate for MPH, MS, and PhD students.
  • SPH LW 800: Genetics, Law and Public Health
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH health law, bioethics and human rights core course requirement or LAW JD867 or permission of instructor.
    This seminar is suitable for any student who wants to be prepared to identify and respond to legal and policy issues that arise when genetics is integrated with public health research and practice. Case studies based on practical problems and dilemmas form the basis of in-class exercises and written assignments. Analyzing the circumstances of these cases gives students opportunities to further their understanding of law and to link that understanding to other areas of knowledge while addressing realistic problems and dilemmas. Cases and related course materials cover a variety of circumstances including DNA banking, newborn screening programs, direct-to-consumer testing services, and genetic counseling.