The following elective courses will be offered regularly over a two-year cycle (15 credits)
The Growth Imperative, Global Ecology, and Women’s Health (01:988:409 )
Over the past half-century, scholars have debated the relationship between the quest for “endless growth”–capital accumulation on a global scale–and resource exhaustion. This course situates women’s health in the context of these debates, investigating the health consequences of environmental crises linked to various market-based development strategies and technological innovations. Analyzing externalized business costs in the currency of human health, the course investigates illness caused by toxic industrial products and byproducts, injury from resource extraction processes such as nuclear fission and deep-water oil drilling, the manifold health hazards stemming from violent conflict over control of scarce resources in postcolonial states, and dangers that attend dislocation resulting from climate change.
Debt, Crisis, and Women’s Health (01:988: 410 )
Growing national debt has become a feature of increasing numbers of nations over the past 60 years, heightening dependence on international financial institutions and restricting the sphere of freedom of national policy makers. Health care provision has been subjected to severe cuts as nations struggle to meet their debt obligations and stabilize their economies. Framing ongoing global economic crisis as a consequence of excess rather than scarcity, this course unsettles the conventional moral calculus of credit and debt, exploring the relationship between debt and economic crisis, and examining the impacts of austerity policies on women’s health. Comparing experiences of nations in various regions of the world, the course considers the effects of continued borrowing to pay debt interest on humanitarian concerns. In particular, the course analyzes who suffers for the sake of debt repayment and the magnitude of that gendered suffering in highly leveraged societies.
Gendered Health Impacts of Structural Adjustment Programs (01:988: 411)
Since the 1980s, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have conditioned loans to poor countries on implementation of economic policy requirements known collectively as structural adjustment. Liberalizing trade, increasing export manufacturing, shifting from subsistence to export-oriented agriculture, and privatizing national assets and industries have been hallmarks of structural adjustment policies. This course considers the gendered effects of structural adjustment. It investigates why women are over-represented among those most negatively affected by cuts in public services, how their caretaking burdens increase and their paid employment decreases disproportionately with privatization. Comparing experiences in the global South with more recent developments in the European Union, this course provides a gendered analysis of the global health impacts of structural adjustment programs.
Health Consequences of Global Trade in Food Commodities (01:988: 412)
Close to one billion people suffer from malnutrition and many more from food deprivation in the 21st century. As neoliberal trade policies have restructured national economies, new speculation in global commodities markets has limited access to food by the poor. This course investigates shifting modes of food production as local practices of subsistence agriculture have been replaced by export agriculture and global commodities markets. The course compares the consequences of these changes for women as consumers in the global North as well as for women as producers of subsistence in the global South. Examining impacts of global commodities markets on food distribution, diet, and health, the course also analyzes the health effects of the creation of consumer markets for processed foods.
Health Consequences of Global Trade in Pharmaceuticals (01:988: 413)
Multinational pharmaceutical companies remain the primary developers of new drug regimens. The health effects of drug research and development, however, vary markedly from one region of the world to another. This course explores the political economy of the global pharmaceutical industry, analyzing the geopolitical distribution of burdens and benefits. It examines ethical issues such as clinical trials on populations in the Global South, continuing sales of drugs across the Global South after they have been banned in the North, disproportionate investment in drugs for minor health problems while serious diseases affecting the poor remain insufficiently studied; inadequate vaccine development and manufacture; restrictions on the distribution of life-saving generic drugs in third world countries; overuse of antibiotics and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and the role of pharmaceutical lobby in influencing healthcare within particular nations.
Gendered Professions and the Transnational Care Economy (01:988: 414)
Nursing and teaching—two women-dominated professions—lie at the heart of the “care economy.” Involving work that requires intensive physical labor, person-to-person communication, and spatial proximity, the intimate nature of care work resists mechanization. In contrast to the production of commodities, the highly personalized labor of care is driven by human need rather than profit maximization. This course provides an overview of distinctive gendered professions whose object of labor is the human subject. In nursing and teaching, skill entails the effective exercise of professional judgment. Focused on the cultivation and preservation of human capacities, this professional labor resists routinization and automation. In addition to examining the distinctive nature of these caring professions, the course explores recent efforts to heighten the profit-making potential of the care economy, and it considers the long-term implications of efforts to deskill and outsource care work.
Internship (01:988: 425, 426 )
RN Response Network provides medical assistance in the context of natural disasters wherever they may occur. This internship placement involves 150-180 hours of professional work with RN Response Network in conjunction with a research paper that links this professional experience with relevant academic work on humanitarian intervention.