Back to School on Corporations and Health Part 5

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As students and faculty return to school this fall, Corporations and Health Watch continues its series on strategies for integrating the study of corporations and health into public health, social science, business and other educational programs.  This post briefly describes several courses that have been taught in the last few years and provides links to class syllabi.  Instructors who want ideas for readings and topics can consult these course outlines, which present a variety of ideological perspectives.  Links are also provided to previous CHW posts on teaching about corporations and health.

Poisoned Worlds: Corporate Behavior and Public Health  Columbia University

This course traces the historical importance of occupational and environmental diseases related to tobacco and food industries and chemical manufacturers. It outlines the histories of traditional occupational hazards like asbestosis and mesothelioma, lead poisoning and other pollutants. Through the use of documents gathered in lawsuits, searches of medical and public health literature and other documentary sources students evaluate historical debates about responsibility for chronic diseases and environmental damage. The scope of the course will include topics ranging broadly from global warming to obesity and low-level lead poisoning, and PCBs. It will focus on the five decades since Silent Spring and the rise of environmental movement. Central to the course will be investigating the uses of history in adjudicating responsibility for chronic conditions and environmental damage affecting men, women, children, workers and communities of color. It will look at the ways history is used in the court and explore how historical information can be used to advocate for populations.

Health Activism  Wellesley College

The diseases, illnesses, and concerns that come under the purview of the health care, public health and global health systems stem from the interplay among scientific understandings, political and economic forces, and the actions of individuals and groups. In this course, we will examine various kinds of what can be labeled “health activism” over the last two centuries. Themes to be addressed will include: activism both in and against health institutions, roles of race/class/gender/disability/ sexuality in health issues, activism in a global health context, reforms, reactions and radicalism.

Pharmaceutical Geographies, Pharmaceutical Economies  University of Minnesota

This seminar examines the emergence and persistence of global disparities in

pharmaceuticals by providing historical, political, economic, and cultural analyses of the

manufacturing, regulation, and distribution of pharmaceuticals. It covers historical and

contemporary issues that underscore the paradoxical nature of the global pharmaceutical



Corporate Sustainability Strategy  Harvard University Extension School

This course explores sustainability from the perspective of a multi-national corporation. It

provides a number of exemplars in various industries to show how they have applied

sustainability tools to their businesses. These will be publicly traded companies, and so there will

be links provided to various forms of information for you to compare and contrast as we move

through the semester. Information will be presented from academic research, white papers

published by respected scholars and experts, and the actual disclosures of major multi-national

companies. Sustainability officers and other sustainability professionals will serve as guest

speakers in the class throughout the semester.


Global Food Politics and Policy Harvard School of Education

This course reviews the political landscape of both food and farming, in both rich

and poor countries. This is a highly contested political space. Scientists, economists,

commercial farmers, agribusiness and food companies, environmentalists, consumer

organizations, and social justice advocates often hold sharply different views. Policy

actions by national governments frequently conflict with the preferences of international

organizations, private companies, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, and humanitarian relief

agencies. Understanding the foundation of these conflicts is key to effective public

policy making.


Consumers, Corporations and Public Health Harvard Business School

With 18 percent of U.S. GDP now allocated to health care, it is essential for all business people to have some familiarity with the health care system. This half-credit course examines how

corporations assist and, in some cases, impede the solving of public health challenges. Targeting

MPH and MBA students, the course aims to promote dialogue and understanding between public

health and business professionals. Common ground can be found when we use a deep

understanding of consumer behavior as the starting point for debate and collaboration.


Previous CHW posts on teaching about corporations





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