Workshop in Critical Public Health

Course Code: 
PHS/GDS 2559
Chris Colvin

Cross-listed with GDS 2559

This course offers students a practical introduction to some of the core concepts and methods in public health.  At the same time, it also demonstrates ways we might engage more “critically” with these basic concepts and methods. Students will develop their knowledge of critical approaches to public health through lecture, discussion and the development through group work of a detailed proposal for a public health intervention. 

Public health is a broad and diverse field devoted to understanding and improving population health.  The term “critical public health” might be defined as an approach to public health that involves “deconstructing taken-for-granted concepts…and asking how these taken-for-granted elements relate to” broader structures of social, political and economic power.  It takes a critical perspective on the day-to-day practice of public health—a field that can over-emphasize technological interventions and individual behavior—and reveals how one’s health is always tied up in one’s social relationships, political opportunities, ecological exposures and economic status.

This “workshop” course will first introduce students to some of the basic concepts and methods in public health as well as the theoretical tools used to critique global public health and then workshop a proposal for a practical public health intervention that meaningfully, and as far as possible, takes these critiques on board.