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Historical, Ethical and Philosophical Foundations of Public Health

Course Number
5600 (Clinical Public Health)
Course Instructor(s)
Ross E. G. Upshur

Course Description

This course examines the historical, ethical and philosophical foundations of public health in a Western context. This course will provide an overview of the historical roots of Western public health and describe the political, social, and philosophical underpinnings of this field. Additionally, theories of justice, evidence-based policy, and case studies in public health will be explored. The course will conclude with an examination of the predominant philosophical and epistemological views in the field of public health

Course Objectives

By the end of the course, the student should have an understanding of the historical, ethical and philosophical foundations of public health practice in the Western context.

Students will be able to:

  • Describe the key historical events that led to the formation of public health as a social force in health care in the 19th and 20th century;
  • Identify and explain how various theories in public health (e.g. theories of justice, evidenced-based policy development) that have been applied in public health initiatives;
  • Apply ethical frameworks and principles to current public health issues;
  • Analyze and describe different philosophies of public health;
  • Demonstrate critical thinking and logical reasoning.

Methods of Assessment

Participation 10%
Short critique 20%
Group presentation 20%
Individual essay 50%