College Bulletin 2022-2023 
    Sep 22, 2023  
College Bulletin 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

POLS 068. Politics of Public Health

This course considers the hotly contested politics of public health. Health is often taken for granted as a value in liberal democratic societies. For example, despite many attempts to overturn the bill, the Affordable Care Act still tends to poll favorably among Americans. Politicians often extol the virtues of a healthy citizenry, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Many people think that the government is obligated to provide health care to citizens. However, many argue that health is a value-laden concept. Who decides what is “healthy,” and how do ideas about what is healthy/unhealthy affect the lived experiences of American citizens? It seems easy to talk about COVID-19 as a pandemic/epidemic, but what about obesity or drug use? Moreover, once society has categorized something as a public health concern, how should the government decide what policies to implement? By combining insights from American political history, health policy, and political theory, this course explores difficult questions regarding how the concept of health is constructed and how societies do/should distribute resources in response to public health concerns. Special attention will be given to how health has been defined throughout American political development, medical vs. social models of disability, the idea of “cure,” the history of eugenics, mental health, health policy, America’s “exceptionalism” in terms of public health policy, and how/whether the government should be involved in providing health care to citizens.
Social sciences.
1 credit.
Eligible for ENVS, GLBL-core
Catalog chapter: Political Science  
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