This course will focus on four core issues: quarantine and criminal penalties, access to affordable medicines and intellectual property, the international and constitutional right to health, and how political institutions and race intersect and condition the effect of law on population health. By looking at these issues in both the United States and abroad, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, students will gain a comparative perspective about how law works in practice.
Utilizing HIV and tuberculosis as core case studies, students will explore how law and policy tools can have a significant impact on population health. Today, state actors continue to use law to address public health issues—with examples of both great successes and significant failures.
As public health law embodies both thorny ethical issues and empirical questions about the power of the state to affect health, examining the intersection of law and social science will reveal substantive issues in key health policy issues as well as the conditions under which law and legal advocacy affects wellbeing. HIV and TB, the world’s biggest infectious killers, provide a lens through which to better understand central issues in public health law and policy, which will then be linked to other health concerns in infectious, non-communicable, and environmental health.
This one-week class will be a blend of lectures, discussion, and small group work. Readings will include case law and legal theory as well as texts from political science, economics, and public health. At the end, students will have a better understanding of how and when the law matters for health—which will be of particular interest to students interested in litigation, lawmaking, and public health regulation.