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Course Descriptions


Bioethics - 3 credits (Spring)

Dr. Ernest Wallwork, Ph.D.
Religion, Syracuse University

This course examines the use of ethical theories and standards by health care professionals. Specific issues presented in the context of case studies illuminate different types of ethical dilemmas and alternative ways of handling them morally. Issues include euthanasia, assisted suicide, truth-telling, confidentiality, research ethics, abortion, genetic counseling, surrogate motherhood, the uses of new reproductive technologies, and justice with respect to care.


Culture and Mental Disorder - 3 credits

John Townsend, Ph.D.
Anthropology, Syracuse University

Mental disorders viewed as illnesses or social constructions. Cross-cultural variation and universals. Western and non-Western methods of treatment. Additional work required of graduate students.


Culture and Reproductive Health and Medicine - 3 credits

Cecilia Van Hollen, Ph.D.
Anthropology, Syracuse University

This course examines diverse ways in which societies throughout the globe view and manage human reproduction and the implications this has for health care and medicine. The emphasis will be primarily, though not exclusively, on women’s reproductive health throughout the life cycle, including puberty, sex, pregnancy, family planning, childbirth, infertility, and menopause. The course also explores changes in reproductive health care in the context of globalization and considers how an understanding of the influence of culture on reproductive health is crucial for the development of international public health policy and practice.

Disability, Food, and Health - 3 credits

Katie McDonald, Ph.D., FAAIDD
Public Health, FALK College, Syracuse University

This course covers major theories, historical events, law, services, and research related to health and wellness for persons with disabilities including disparities, health promotion, ethics, aging, violence, and disaster preparedness.


Disability, Medicine, and Representation - 3 credits

Rebecca Garden, Ph.D., Center for Bioethics and Humanities
SUNY Upstate Medical University

This course aims to bring disability and medicine into cross-disciplinary dialogue by examining representations of disability and medicine in film, literature, and medical texts on disability.  These texts and conventions are considered in light of critical discussions of representation and disability. The "medicalization" of disability is examined, with students invited to explore disability and ability as cultural representations, wherein bodily abilities and limitations are conditioned by subjective perceptions of “normalcy.”  A principal question is how to incorporate a “social model” of disability into medical/clinical education and practice. Disability studies scholars and clinicians working on disability will be guest speakers.


Ethics and the Health Professions - 3 credits

Paul Prescott, Ph.D.
Philosophy, Syracuse University

This course examines the origins and use of ethical theories in the clinical, professional. organizational, and political-economic fields of action in health care. Specific issues presented in the context of case studies illuminate the several fields. These issues include assisted suicide, professional codes of ethics, the ethics of "cost-cutting," and justice with respect to care.


First Person: Narratives of Illness, Disability, and Identity - 3 credits

Rebecca Garden, Ph.D., Center for Bioethics and Humanities
SUNY Upstate Medical University

This course explores first-person narratives of illness and disability, especially in light of other forms of social difference, such as gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and class. Using tools of literary analysis and cultural criticism, students come together from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds to examine the experiences of writers with AIDS, autism, cancer, hepatitis, and multiple sclerosis. Students consider ethical and social issues such as doctor/patient relationships, caregiver relations, questions of control, authority, appearance, and “normalcy” and the role of empathy and emotion in medicine and healing.


Health Promotion: Disability - 3 credits

Katie McDonald, Ph.D., FAAIDD
Public Health, FALK College, Syracuse University

This course covers the factors influencing the health and well-being of persons with disability, including models of disability, disability history, law and services, health disparities, health promotion, ethics, violence, and disaster preparedness.


Medical Anthropology in Ecological Perspectives - 3 credits

John Townsend, Ph.D.
Anthropology, Syracuse University

The fundamental tenets of health care delivery are analyzed and the concepts of "health," "illness," "patient," "cure," and "efficiency" are explored. Western medical practices are compared to practices in other cultures; implicit premises and deficiencies in western medicine are highlighted. Topics include analysis of status and roles in hospitals; socialization into the culture of medicine; magical curing; economic barriers to better health care; problems introducing western medicine into alien cultures; and the patient’s role.


Medicine in Literature and Film - 3 credits

Deirdre Neilen, Ph.D., Center for Bioethics and Humanities
SUNY Upstate Medical University

The relationship between artistic creation and medicine will be explored through the study of novels, film, short stories, poetry, and essays about medical situations, characters and themes. Thematic areas to be examined include the relationship between truth and confidentiality; the hospital as toxic and therapeutic environment; relationships between health care workers and patients; illness as metaphor and as reality; and the experience of disease.


Public Health Ethics - 3 credits

Sandra Lane, Ph.D.
Health and Wellness, Syracuse University

This course addresses ethical issues in public health. Public health ethics is a new area of scholarship and practice that addresses population-level health issues, including issues such as food stamps and health insurance, immunizations, public health research, legal and policy responses to infectious diseases and epidemics, and the role of religious and social values in setting health policy.


Representations of the Nurse in Literature, Film, and Television - 3 credits

Rebecca Garden, Ph.D., Center for Bioethics and Humanities
SUNY Upstate Medical University

How the nurse has been represented historically in literature, film and television is explored, focusing specifically at the relationships among images of nurses, ideologies of nursing, and the practice of nursing. Representations of nursing in late nineteenth-century and twentieth-century texts are examined in relation to larger class and gender issues, including the ways in which the nurse threatened traditional notions of women. The social contexts of representations of nurses in late twentieth-century culture are analyzed, from Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest to the gay male nurse Belize in Angels in America, and stereotypes and iconoclastic figures are identified. Focusing on more recent literature, film, and television, the figure of the nurse is considered in relation to contemporary concerns about the nursing profession, such as the relationship between nurses and physicians, the economy of the hospital and health care, and the nursing shortage.