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 LW 830: Health Insurance, Health Reform and the Law
    Graduate Prerequisites: LW751 or JD867.
    The seminar examines the pivotal role of insurance in health reform, health policy and the distribution of health care in the US. We explore how the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act affects the design, operation, and regulation of health benefit plans, as well as the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Investigating arguments for and against specific regulations, we learn fundamentals of insurance and whether reforms affect larger principles of law. We also study Massachusetts, the model for federal health reform, and the comparative advantages of federal and state governance. Students explore the changing roles of insurance in the health system by analyzing and comparing federal and state laws governing different health benefit plans (including indemnity insurance, managed care, consumer choice, and health promotion plans), and how reforms affect current law, including state licensure, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. Topics include basic concepts of insurance; accepting, managing and shifting financial risk; individual and employer mandates; health insurance exchanges; contracting with providers, employers, and individuals; designing and administering plans; defining benefits; and appeals and remedies. This class meets at BU School of Law and follows the Law School class schedule.
  • SPH LW 840: Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH LW751 or LAW JD867 or permission of instructor
    Health law, bioethics, and human rights are converging in challenging ways, especially at the national level (in both legislation and constitutional adjudication), and the international law level. This seminar will explore the convergence and its meaning for the law and society through specific case studies including post-9/11 proposals for mass quarantine; torture and force-feeding justifications in the GWOT; genetic engineering and the new reproductive technologies; the relationship between abortion and the death penalty; and the meaning of the ?right to health.? This class is taught at BU School of Public Health and meets the Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights Department captone requirement.
  • SPH LW 850: Legal Strategies to Reduce Health Risks
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH LW751 or LAW JD867.
    This research seminar offers a systematic framework for determining when and how to use law to prevent or control health risks posed by diseases, bioterrorism, consumer products, personal behavior, and occupational hazards. Students will analyze and compare the suitability different legal strategies, such as criminal and civil prohibitions, isolation and quarantine, licensure, mandatory product standards, tort liability, disclosure requirements, and advertising restrictions. Emphasis is on the legal requirements for initiating and enforcing specific federal and state regulatory methods, their effectiveness, and differences between regulating personal behavior and commercial entities. Students will conduct guided research to develop a legal strategy to address a contemporary health risk.
  • SPH LW 854: Mental Health Law
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH health law core course requirement or permission of instructor
    Subjects discussed include an overview of clinical psychiatry, institutionalization, deinstitutionalization, the insanity defense, incompetence to stand trial, the right to treatment and the right to refuse treatment, involuntary commitment, dangerousness, the meaning of mental illness, the use of invasive treatments, psychotherapy, privacy, and professional ethics. Legal cases make up most of the course material.
  • SPH MC 705: Safer Sex in the City: from science to policy
    Why do you need research-based knowledge about sex, sexuality, and how to apply this to public health? So you can understand and debate public health issues and controversies, such as STDs, contraception, and donor sperm and eggs. And maybe learn a little about yourself. This course will cover a range of topics related to sexuality and health application of this knowledge to program planning and policy.
  • SPH MC 725: Women, Children and Adolescents: A Public Health Approach
    Women, Children and Adolescents: Public Health Approaches This course introduces students to the principles and practices of public health and maternal and child health. Using the life-course perspective, this course examines the social determinants of health and development of women, infants, children and adolescents. Selected current topics, such as asthma, adolescent pregnancy, infant mortality, and childhood obesity, are studied in depth and used to illustrate how problems are understood, their distribution in diverse populations, and the content and quality of programs required to address them. Throughout the course, special attention is given to the impact of poverty, poor access to health care, and racial inequities on the health of families, as well as to the strengths that individuals and communities bring to the creation of solutions. By the end of the course students will be able to formulate an MCH-related public health question, conduct and write a literature review, and write a policy memo. MC725 is the first required course in the MCH sequence.
  • SPH MC 730: Leading to face challenges and achieve results in public health
    This course equips students with the theoretical knowledge and applied practices to lead teams to achieve results in public health settings. In addition to understanding leadership theory and analyzing public health cases, the course includes an experiential learning process, ideal for public health professionals who aspire to be effective leaders for change. Teams will work together to teach both theory and practical tools to mobilize groups and achieve results. Participants in this course cannot also take MC802 which covers similar materials in a field‐based course.
  • SPH MC 759: Perinatal Epidemiology
    Graduate Prerequisites: Epidemiology core course required; the biostatistics core course and MC725 recommended.
    Issues related to the perinatal period from the framework of epidemiologic methods will be examined in this course through critical review of epidemiologic studies and exploration of measurement, design and data issues for this population. The course will examine the effect of social conditions, perinatal exposures and programmatic strategies for maternal and infant health. Participants will review various sources of perinatal epidemiologic data, and will address classification issues and challenges in assessing pregnancy exposures and outcomes related to these data sources. The final course project will require a formal, written literature review as well as an NIH-style study proposal on a perinatal issue.
  • SPH MC 763: Maternal and Child Health Policy Making
    This course explores the process by which U.S. national and state policymakers allocate resources to mothers and children. Beginning with an analysis of the evolution of U.S. maternal and child health (MCH) policy, it utilizes general policy models and case studies to examine the special features of legislative, executive, administrative, and judicial policy making in MCH. The course examines how policy making in MCH has traditionally been characterized by a greater reliance on regulatory and judicial bodies, as well as the frequent use of mothers and children as political symbols. This course is taught in seminar format with weekly readings and student-led discussion.
  • SPH MC 770: Children with Special Health Care Needs
    The course presents an overview of issues related to the design and delivery of services for children with special health care needs and their families in the United States. It addresses the nature and extent of chronic illness and disability among children, the demographics of childhood disability, the legislative framework for health and social services for this population, and the organization and implementation of services at local, state and federal levels. Throughout the course, the central role of family in the child's life and the importance of family-centered service systems are emphasized. The challenge of balancing complex care needs with needs related to childhood social and cognitive development is highlighted. Students are given opportunities to enhance skills in the areas of needs assessment, program and policy development, and evaluation through class discussion, readings, and assignments.
  • SPH MC 775: Research and Action for Eliminating Health Inequities
    This course is focused on strengthening public health students' knowledge, skills and ability to construct a critical appraisal of the determinants, distribution, causes, mechanisms, systems and consequences of health disparities. The course requirements, including the class presentations, help students in acquiring intermediate skills in design of public health interventions targeted toward understanding, reducing and ultimately eliminating health disparities among and across MCH populations. Students will gain program evaluation skills through evaluation of allocation of resources and provision of health services in a specific community-based program. The course is designed to help students translate current knowledge and research into specific public health strategies. This class also carries concentration credit for the Social & Behavioral Sciences concentration.
  • SPH MC 782: Women and Substance Use
    This course offers a window on the experiential context in which women -- including adolescent girls --develop substance abuse problems, and the health and social consequences for them and for their families. We will examine the complex, dynamic interaction of risk and resilience as it affects individuals, families, and communities, and learn about the interplay between substance abuse and co-existing mental health problems. The course will cover effective practices for screening and clinical assessment, gender-specific and family-centered treatment, prevention of relapse, and the importance of addressing co-morbidities as part of public health strategies. Throughout the course, we will consider special MCH populations, such as pregnant women. By the end of the course, students will demonstrate a deeper understanding of the complexity and inter-relatedness of personal and social environments in which substance abuse and mental health issues occur within families and strategies and policies for prevention, detection, and treatment. A research paper will be required.
  • SPH MC 785: Sexual and Reproductive Health Advocacy
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH LW 707 or equivalent (concurrent or completed) or consent of instructor
    This course prepares students to design, lead, or collaborate in advocacy efforts around reproductive health policy in the United States. It allows students to focus on an array of issues related to women?s fertility and its regulation and to use multiple frameworks--public health science, law, social history, religion and politics--to frame and argue their positions for purposes of advocacy. The course begins with an overview of the social and political history of fertility control and current reproductive health services and policies. We then examine debates at the state and national levels in preparation for advocacy skill-building and practice, including a visit to the State House, interaction with a panel of advocacy organizations, participation in mock legislative hearings, and the writing of an ?op ed? article for a local or national newspaper. By the end of the course students demonstrate enhanced competence in critical analysis, argument, writing and presentation to audiences that range from public officials to the readers of popular press. Interested students may append the course with directed study or practicum with Prof. McCloskey to complete a project at a reproductive health advocacy organization.
  • SPH MC 786: Immigrant Family Health: Public Health Across Borders
    This course focuses on low-income immigrants in the U.S. and applies a family and community health perspective to the study of their health and well-being. It begins with an overview of how political, economic, cultural factors at the global and local levels shape the migration patters and health of immigrants and refugees. We then examine specific immigrant groups and health issues, with attention to interventions that engage community members in taking action. Students will gain critical skills in contextual analysis, community based participatory research, and project design. This class counts for MC, SB, and IH concentration credit.
  • SPH MC 795: The Health of Adolescents and Emerging Adults
    Graduate Prerequisites: MPH core course in Epidemiology and Biostatistics. Also acceptable: SAR HS300 for epidemiology and CAS MA115 & 116 or MA 213 & 214 or MA 684 for biostatistics
    This course equips advanced undergraduates and Master's students from all departments and disciplines to examine the public health challenges presented by adolescents. The course begins with an introduction to adolescent development (i.e., in terms of biology, behavior, social roles, and psychology), and also reviews basic themes of public health (i.e., a public health approach, the social ecological framework). The course continues with in-depth review of the prevalence and causes of several key risk behaviors and health problems among adolescents, including: unintentional injury, sexual risk behaviors, suicide and mental health, obesity, multiple types of violence, and substance use. The course also reviews: health policy, school health, the role of the media on adolescent health, and issues in adolescent health research. Class sessions involve a variety of formats including small group work, lecture and discussion, activities, and debates.
  • SPH MC 800: Preventing Mental Health Disorders Among Women, Children, and Adolescents: A Life Course Perspective
    Graduate Prerequisites: The MPH epidemiology core course requirement AND SB721 OR MC725
    The course will use a prevention framework to examine mental health interventions targeted to women, children, and youth. We will explore how events that occur during critical developmental periods -- early childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy - can alter the life course of the individual and the family. Readings will focus on preventive interventions that target specific disorders, as well as those focused on addressing risk and protective factors common to many mental health problems. We will pay particular attention to how preventive interventions can be implemented and disseminated at a community level and integrated into primary care health care settings and major public health programs. The course will involve substantial group work; it is approved for MCH and SB concentration credit.
  • SPH MC 802: Implementing Community Health Initiatives: A Field-based Course in Leadership and Consultation
    Graduate Prerequisites: For MPH students who have completed at least 9 credits
    Students will work in theory and practice to address the question, How can we as emerging public health professionals with diverse backgrounds work together and with organizational partners to lead new initiatives and assure optimal health in our communities? This course is designed for upper level public health students who seek the leadership and consultation skills needed to assess problems, define challenges, analyze stakeholder interests, develop and implement strategies to achieve results. By the end of the course students will be able to work in teams to apply the Challenge Model to develop and implement a community-based health initiative in partnership with a community health center or organization, and effectively communicate findings and recommendations in real-world professional settings.
  • SPH MC 815: Sexual and Reproductive Health Advocacy: Culture, Science, and Politics
    Graduate Prerequisites: MC725 for MCH concentrators or permission of instructor
    This course prepares students to design, lead, or collaborate in advocacy efforts around sexual and reproductive health policy in the United States, with attention to the global context in which the policies are developed and have their impact. Students focus on an array of issues related to sexual health and the regulation of women?s fertility, and use multiple frameworks--public health science, law, social history, religion and politics--to frame and argue their positions for purposes of advocacy. Students develop skills in critical analysis, argument, writing and presentation to audiences that range from public officials to the readers of popular press.
  • SPH MC 820: Managing MCH Programs
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH MC725
    This course helps students develop skills in program implementation and management. The class moves through the implementation process step-by-step, culminating in the development of a complete programmatic management plan as the course final. Class meetings build from the initial steps of problem definition through the development of a logic model, monitoring and evaluation planning, incorporation of appropriate strategies for engaging relevant stakeholders, design of program outreach materials, and development of a program budget. Assignments are progressive: as new components are added to student plans, previous components are revised and refined. The class emphasizes team work as well as development of individual skills. Students learn to critique one another's work in workshop sessions scheduled at key junctures in the course. Students are expected to have completed MC725 before taking MC820. Exceptions are possible, however, for students from concentrations other than MCH and occasionally for students who can draw on substantial experience around a particular MCH topic.
  • SPH MC 840: Women and Health Policy: Gender, Evidence, and Politics
    Graduate Prerequisites: MC725 or consent of instructor.
    This course provides an opportunity to link theory, experience, and policy-making in the field of women?s health. Topics explored during the first half of the course include: what women in the U.S. need, want and receive with respect to health care services and preventive education; the role of women as health activists, consumers and providers; the meaning of gender, race, class, and culture in the provider-patient relationship; the assumptions and agendas that have shaped the field of women?s health; and the implications of that history for policy-making today. During the second half of the course, case studies are used to consider whether or not the questions currently being asked in women?s health are the right questions and whether or not resources are being directed appropriately. Topics examined in depth include mammography, lesbian health, hormone replacement therapy, physical disability, depression and aging. Students complete the course with sharpened skills for making arguments and promoting their ideas orally and in writing to audiences as diverse as legislators, the media, private foundations, public health policy-makers, and the general public. this class carries SB concentration credit.