Boston University School of Law

LW850 Legal Strategies to Reduce Health Risks


Traditional public health is rapidly transforming itself from state programs to prevent disease in populations (e.g., vaccinations and newborn screening) to federal and international efforts to more broadly promote the "right to health." This problem-oriented seminar enables students to answer questions about health risks as such questions typically arise in practice. It covers contemporary examples of the seven deadly sins -- anger, gluttony, lust, sloth -- plus drugs, alcohol, tobacco, firearms, biobanks, epidemics, bioweapons, and surveillance. The seminar offers a systematic framework for identifying and controlling health risks, drawing on theories of risk perception, cognitive reasoning, and empirical evidence. Students analyze and compare the applicability and effectiveness of different legal strategies to control risks, such as criminal and civil prohibitions, mandatory product standards, tort liability, mandatory data collection, biometric testing, conditions of employment, marketing restrictions, quarantine, and taxation. Emphasis is on the different scope of laws (state, federal and international) regulating personal behavior and laws regulating products and commercial activities. A writing project to develop a legal strategy to address a contemporary risk to health is required.


REMINDER: This is an SPH course. Students cannot register through WebReg. Students who register for the class and want law credit must add the course to their law transcript by completing an add form at the Law Registrar's Office before the end of the add/drop period for that semester.

NOTE: The LAW credit equivalent will be determined by the Registrar's Office. The course and grade will appear on the transcript, however the grade is not factored into the law g.p.a