Courses

The course descriptions below are correct to the best of our knowledge as of April 2016. 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 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 and Holocaust Studies
    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 830: Health Insurance and the Affordable Care Act
    Graduate Prerequisites: LW751 or JD867.
    This seminar offers an in-depth examination of the pivotal role of public and private insurance in US health policy. Health insurance pays for almost all health care in the US, strongly influencing (often dictating) who gets what care and on what terms. The class explores how the Affordable Care Act affects the design, operation, and regulation of health benefit plans, including Medicare, Medicaid, employer-sponsored group plans, and commercial insurance. Investigating contemporary regulations, students learn fundamentals of insurance, where reforms do and do not alter such fundamentals, and whether reforms affect larger principles of law. Topics include state and federal regulation; ERISA plan requirements; ERISA preemption of certain state laws; accepting, managing and shifting financial risk; designing health insurance exchanges; contracting with providers, Accountable Care Organizations, employers, and individuals; designing and administering plans; defining benefits, including Essential Health Benefits; appeals and remedies; and state adaptations of health insurance exchanges, subsidy wrap-arounds, risk corridors, and Medicaid expansions.
  • SPH LW 840: Health Law, Bioethics, and Human Rights
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH719
    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: Public Health Law
    Graduate Prerequisites: SPH PH719
    This problem-oriented research seminar enables students to confront questions about health risks as such questions typically arise in practice -- in all their messy complexity and without doctrinal labels. The seminar offers a systematic framework for identifying health risks, drawing on theories of risk perception, cognitive reasoning, and empirical evidence. Using contemporary examples of risks from firearms, tobacco, drugs, foods and other consumer products, genetics, personal behavior, contagious and chronic diseases, bioterrorism, surveillance, and the social environment, students analyze and compare the applicability and effectiveness of different legal strategies to control different types of risks. Strategies include criminal and civil prohibitions, mandatory product standards, tort liability, mandatory data collection, biometric testing, wellness programs, conditions of employment, advertising and marketing restrictions, isolation and quarantine, involuntary treatment, taxation, and limits on liability. Emphasis is on the different requirements for and limits of laws regulating personal behavior and laws regulating products and commercial activities. Students conduct independent research to develop a legal strategy to address a contemporary risk to health.
  • SPH LW 854: Mental Health Law, Policy & Ethics
    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
    Our knowledge of sex and sexuality is derived in large part from the sociocultural and religious context of our society and the specific community and families in which we have been raised. In this class we will use a variety of teaching methods to allow you to discover how much you really know about basic sexual health information, including current public health sexual health issues. Then you will acquire an understanding of the issues based on current thinking from the biologic and social sciences. After covering the basics of each topic, we will explore some of the contextual factors, such as history, culture, or economics that affect framing of the issues and discuss the direct public health ramifications. The course will also help you develop your skills in communication, debate, teaching, and podcasting about sexual health from a public health perspective.
  • SPH MC 725: Women, Children and Adolescents: A Public Health Approach
    This course introduces students to the principles and practices of public health and maternal and child health. Using the life course perspective, the course examines how infants, children, women and families develop in the context of biologic and social determinants of health, as they play out over a lifetime and across generations. 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 inequalities 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 be activists in public health who can lead others to face challenges. 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. Students will work in teams to understand theory and apply practical tools to mobilize groups to achieve results.
  • SPH MC 759: Perinatal and Child Health Epidemiology
    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 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 entails 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 interact with families affected by special needs, and gain skills in the development of family-centered policy and program development.
  • SPH MC 775: Social Justice and the Health of Populations: Racism and other systems of oppression in America
    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 inequities. The course is premised on the knowledge that social patterns of health and well-being do not happen by accident, but occur as a result of social systems which unfairly advantage some and disadvantage other groups of people. As such, inequity more explicitly defines what we know to be a "fairness" issue in public health. The course will be organized around investigating the current state of health inequities in the United States, critically examining the current research around causes and consequences of inequities, and critiquing social and public health programs for their capacity to eliminate them. 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: Reproductive Health Advocacy: From Rights to Justice
    Graduate Prerequisites: None
    This course prepares students to critically re-evaluate, strengthen, and argue their positions on matters related to the control of sex and reproduction. It allows student 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 identify their values and 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 a fact sheet and op-ed article for a local or national newspaper. Students gain skills in critical analysis, argument, writing and presentation to government and lay audiences.
  • SPH MC 786: Immigrant and Refugee Health
    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.
  • 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
    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; the majority will be done during formal class sessions. The class is approved for MCH and SB concentration credit.
  • SPH MC 802: Implementing Community Health Initiatives: A Field-based Course in Leadership and Consultation
    This course is designed for public health students from diverse backgrounds who aspire to be effective leaders for change in community health settings. Students work in teams to define and address a specific challenge with partners in a community health center or organization. Course sessions engage students in learning and teaching key concepts, theories, and practices in management, leadership, and community partnership. Students apply tools to define a challenge, scan the environment, investigate evidence, define interests of key stakeholders, map organizational processes, align and mobilize constituents, synthesize findings, and communicate findings and recommendations to the client organization in a polished presentation and consultant report. Throughout the course, students learn to build strong teams, create breakthroughs when breakdowns occur, and assess themselves and others as team players. The course prepares students to act as collaborative consultants in real-world professional settings.