INTR 259 Society, Culture and Disease (Not offered 2004-2005)

Disease is one of the basic forces behind the growth, shape and vitality of human societies. Recognizing that understanding the effects of disease upon culture and society requires an approach that transcends traditional academic disciplines, this course will examine the nature and importance of disease from several perspectives. Focusing on the intersection of biology, economics and cultural study, we will confront some of the most difficult and important issues of our time. How do we decide which diseases deserve the resources required for vaccine development? Who gets the vaccine? In other words, who lives, and who dies? How do we decide the value of a human life? How do we understand and heal the wounds, individual and cultural, deriving from our confrontation with disease-with the AIDS epidemic, for instance? In what ways has disease, as an agent of change, been a beneficial force in our history? How do we define "health"? What, exactly, is disease? In exploring these issues, we will use a number of different formats, including lecture, discussion, tutorial sessions, and guest lecturers. Texts studied will range from the scientific to the literary, and might include formal academic papers, poetry, plays, films, historical works and cultural studies. Format: lecture/discussion. Evaluation will be based on class participation, several short papers, and a final essay. Prerequisites: Economics 101 or 110 or 120; Biology 101 or Chemistry 115 or Biology AP5; 100-level English class except 150; permission of instructor. Enrollment limit: 30 (expected: 30). Satisfies one semester of the Division I requirement.