ANTH S-1665 Who Lives, Who Dies: An Introduction to Global Health and Social Medicine

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7-week session | CRN 33864

If you are sick or hurt, whether you live or die depends not only on biological factors, but social ones. Is there a hospital nearby? An ambulance to take you there? Is there a skilled surgeon available, and will you be lucky enough to have anesthesia when she cuts you open? This course explores how social factors create health disparities. First, students gain foundational knowledge of key concepts in social medicine, including an overview of health institutions and the arguments for health as a human right. We then turn to what we can call chronic emergencies—case studies of people and communities who have been denied health care and allowed to suffer and die, because they are poor, uninsured, undocumented, or otherwise social outcasts. Case studies are drawn from across the globe, with significant attention given to the lived experience of chronic hunger, extreme deprivation, and mental illness. Finally, success stories—such as the fight against HIV/AIDS in the United States and the rebuilding of the Rwandan health system after the genocide—are examined. By the end, students not only understand concepts and case studies in global health and social medicine, but also strategies and interventions that can save lives.

Course information
Class meetings

Mondays, Wednesdays, 6:30-9:30 pm
Harvard Hall 202

Start date

Monday, June 25


4 credits

Course tuition


Enrollment status

  • Registration Closed
  • Notes

    For premedical students, this course reviews concepts found on the Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior section of the MCAT, including how sociocultural factors and access to resources have an impact on health.



    Jason Bryan Silverstein, PhD.

    Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School