Instructor: Dr. Abdul El-Sayed
Although public policy cannot literally save a life, it can work to prolong life, improve the quality of life, and provide for equitable access to health over the lifespan. Yet so often it fails to do that in the US. And that’s because our policy is a product of our politics—our national conversation about who we are and who we want to be and how that shapes our election outcomes and policy choices. In this course, we will explore contemporary topics in human wellbeing through the lens of U.S. public policy choices and the politics that shape them. We will consider how politics have shaped the policy choices that created and sustain modern systems of public health, air and water, education, food--and of course healthcare. In turn, we will consider how those systems shape and drive health. This includes examining the ways that structural racism, poverty, corporate power, and public advocacy shape public health and healthcare policy. The course is designed with two complementary components: 1) a lecture component, including guest speakers, that unpacks the underlying political and public policy choices shaping contemporary challenges in public health; and 2) small group discussions where we explore these issues in more depth, leveraging the content and debate of the lectures. In addition, there will be a focus on skill building, including writing for public audiences, practical organizing and advocacy, and media engagement.