Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

History of FAS

History of Science 112. Magic, Medicine and Miracles: Health and Healing in the Middle Ages and Renaissance

Katharine Park
An introduction to theories and practices of healing in the medical, religious, and magical realms. Topics include the construction of medical authority and expertise, potions and incantations, saints' cults, the play of sex and gender among healers and patients, the multiple social and cultural roles played by early hospitals, and responses to "new" diseases such as syphilis and plague.

History of Science 143v. Biomedicine and Health Policy in America

Aaron Pascal Mauck
Health policies are often described as products of stakeholders, institutions, and political circumstances. Yet it is impossible to understand how health policies come about without taking into account biomedical research and practices. From the establishment of the NIH to the crafting of the Affordable Care Act, biomedicine has played a profound role in shaping the aim, scope, and structure of health policy- and vice-versa. This course explores this interrelationship from the late nineteenth century to the present, with the aim of better understanding the dynamic arrangement of science and politics that has shaped healthcare in America.

History of Science 145v. Advocacy, Activism, and Social Movements in Medicine

Aaron Pascal Mauck
Modern medicine is often viewed as a system in which the few dominate the many in socially acceptable ways. By virtue of their expertise, doctors are given the right make life-changing decisions about people with relatively little say from those affected. Yet power relations between doctors and patients have historically been far more complicated, as non-experts have long strove to find a place in decision-making about medical research and treatment. With topics ranging from medical consumerism to targeted disease advocacy, this course examines the historical processes through which non-experts have sought to shape the course of medicine around their own beliefs, values, and goals.

History of Science 149. The History and Culture of Stigma

Allan M. Brandt
This course will investigate the history of a number of stigmatized conditions and diseases including, for example, cancer, mental illness, addiction, obesity, AIDS, and disability. A central goal will be to understand the stigmatization of disease and its effects in diverse historical and cultural contexts. The course will evaluate both the impact of stigmatization on health disparities and outcomes, as well as attempts to de-stigmatize conditions that are subject to discrimination, prejudice, and isolation.

History of Science 149v. Explaining Epidemics

Aaron Pascal Mauck
Outbreaks of epidemic disease have played a role in shaping human societies from the beginning of recorded history, transforming demographic patterns, social practices, and cultural expectations. Although they take fewer lives than the diseases we encounter every day, epidemics possess an extraordinary hold over our collective imagination. This course seeks to understand why. Through an analysis of outbreaks ranging from the Black Death to Avian Flu, we will explore the place of epidemic disease in human history, taking into account how those living in different times and places have responded when epidemics have appeared.

History of Science 196. Justice in Health: Ethics of Public Health in the Contemporary World

Soha Hassan Bayoumi
Public health is distinctly political. It is a field where moral and political philosophy play a significant role. Contemporary political debates on justice have very often brought up questions of public health and what justice in health means. This course addresses central issues in the philosophy of health and health care, investigating how some fundamental questions in this field have been answered and exploring possible alternatives to those answers. Questions we consider include: What is health? What is health care? Does health enjoy a special moral significance? What is it? Is health/health care a fundamental human right? Why do persons and communities differ in their health outcomes and when are these differences considered unjust? What are the limits of personal and social responsibility for health? How can we meet health needs fairly? The course also probes questions of class, race, gender and age in its discussion of justice in health and examines ethical questions in global health.

History of Science 247. Current Issues in the History of Medicine: Seminar

Allan M. Brandt
Explores new methods for understanding disease, medicine, and society, ranging from historical demography to cultural studies. Topics include patterns of health and disease, changes in medical science and clinical practice, the doctor-patient relationship, health care systems, alternative healing, and representations of the human body. The course will focus on historical problem-framing, research strategies, and writing.

History of Science 248. Ethics and Judgment in the History of Science and Medicine

David Shumway Jones
Examines the tensions felt by historians and physicians between historicizing past ethical behaviors and norms and wanting to pass judgment on past actors and actions. Topics include contested diseases and accusations of unethical research; the focus in Spring 2014 will be on controversial therapeutics.

USW 13. Medicine and Society in America (Offered through FAS General Education)

David Shumway Jones
Surveys major developments in the history of American medicine since 1500. Emphasis on setting the practice of medicine and the experience of health and disease into broad social, cultural, and political contexts. Topics include the social and cultural impact of epidemic disease; the nature of demographic and epidemiological change; the development of medical therapeutics and technologies; the growth of health care institutions; the rise of the medical profession; and debates about the allocation of health care resources. Evaluates the role of medicine in addressing social needs as well as the social and economic determinants of patterns of health and disease.