Great Calamities and Their Consequences for Public Health

SPH EH 780

Current public health practice in the United States evolved in response to public health calamities. Epidemics of infectious disease, mass poisonings, and industrial disasters have served as catalysts for new regulations and institutions of public health. For example, the sulfanilamide tragedy of 1937 was the catalyst for the current drug approval process. In addition, public and private responses to calamities have fueled the development of scientific knowledge and epidemiologi methods. For example, John Snow's investigation of the London cholera outbreak of 1854 demonstrated the utility of observational epidemiology. This course acquaints students with those calamities of primarily the past 200 years that were most consequential for public health practice. The emphasis is on each calamity's impact on knowledge of disease causation and control and on the development of public health institutions and regulations.

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