2012-13 Catalog

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Offering Description

Public Health and Economic Development in Sub-Saharan Africa

Fall 2012 and Winter 2013 quarters

Tom Womeldorff economics , Nancy Anderson community and international health
Fields of Study
economics, health and international studies
Preparatory for studies or careers in
public health, international development studies, economics, public policy and political economy.

For generations, individuals from "richer countries" have travelled to "poorer countries" to help improve local living conditions, not always with positive or even measurable results. How do well-intentioned outsiders know if they are helping or hindering the progress of a community? We will critically assess the effectiveness of outsiders--individuals, organizations and governments--with particular focus on issues of public health and economic development in Sub-Saharan Africa. Is there a constructive role for "richer countries" in promoting and facilitating equitable development in the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa or does the history of colonialism doom any possibility of constructive interaction?

We will begin by examining the systematic underdevelopment of Africa by European colonial powers, and analyze the continent's historical and current place in the capitalist world-system. We will develop an understanding of the complexities, paradoxes and contradictions shaping the possibilities for equitable development in post-colonial Sub-Saharan Africa. We will consider the evolution of theories of economic development and public health perspectives on human development. We will explore the forces that have shaped the health and human development of Sub Saharan Africa since World War II. How do we know that models designed to improve human development actually forward the stated goals? Does economic growth now followed by later income redistribution work or must equity be incorporated into economic goals from the outset? How do we measure success? Can governmental aid organizations, acting in the name of the "richer countries", serve the best interests of the "poorer countries"? How can we best work with governments that do not promote equity or the well-being of their populations?

We will consider the role of governmental aid, multilateral agencies, and non-governmental organizations. We will consider a range of economic development initiatives from the World Bank to Kiva.org. The role of the World Health Organization, the relevance of the primary health care model, and the potential of the Health for All campaigns will be considered in the context of ongoing inequality and continuing indicators of poor health in several parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

We will use a case study format to analyze the variation in equitable economic development and public health among several Sub-Saharan African countries, examining the influence of foreign aid in the achievement of these objectives. Students completing this program will have a foundation in economic development and public health that will help them critically assess community needs, strengths, and deficits. They will have the skills necessary to answer the question "Am I making a positive difference?" both at home and abroad.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
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