Core Studios

Foundations of Public Health (P6020)

This studio presents students with an introduction to the field of public health and serves as a stepping-stone for greater understanding of the material presented throughout the core. Foundations of Public Health consists of three modules:

Ethics of Public Health introduces students to the normative foundations of public health in the United States. Students learn the fundamental constitutional principles that shape the practice of public health, including justice, autonomy, paternalism, and privacy.

Human Rights helps students to develop a practical idea of human rights-based approaches to public health, examining the notions of participation, accountability, and equitable access to services. Case examples of health-related human rights challenges focus on current issues as well as challenges from key moments in the history of health and human rights. The cases will illustrate rights-based assessment and analysis.

History of Public Heath provides students with a narrative of the field’s development over the past two centuries. The course explores the ways in which changing social, political, and economic structures have reshaped patterns of disease. Emphasis will be on domestic issues, though some study of the developing world will be included.

Research Methods and Applications (P6031)

The Research Methods and Applications studio provides an introduction to scientific inquiry and evidence, their relationships to public policy, and an integrated approach to the disciplines of biostatistics and epidemiology. It provides a basic introduction to: measurement, inference, and the language and tools of science; the differences between scientific and other types of inquiry and knowledge; classical models of how science and evidence can inform policy; and sources of tension at the science-policy interface. Students will learn common qualitative data collection strategies, the role of logic models in planning public health programs, and how to choose appropriate designs to evaluate those programs, and will examine the origins and current discipline of systems thinking through the following modules:

Qualitative Foundations is designed to introduce students to the purposes, applications, strengths, and limitations of the qualitative methodological paradigm in public health research, including its use in conjunction with quantitative methods. Various strategies and data collection methods for generating qualitative data will be assessed, and key components of qualitative study design will be defined.

Quantitative Foundations provides an integrated approach to the disciplines of biostatistics and epidemiology. Quantitative methods introduced in this course provide some of the tools necessary to help estimate the relationships between the smaller pieces that comprise public health's complex and dynamic web of systems.

Determinants of Health (P6040)

This studio provides students with a foundation in the fundamental biological concepts that influence and reflect health status. Students explore the environmental principles that impact these biological systems and cause disease, and analyze the interlocking issues that give a comprehensive understanding of how the world around us affects our bodies and our health through two modules:

Biological Basis of Public Health gives students a basic knowledge of major biological concepts that provide the foundation for public health study. Topics include genetics, bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections, chronic diseases, the nervous system, and reproduction and fetal development.

Environmental Determinants of Human Health presents some of the basic principles of environmental health sciences, such as exposure, risk, and toxicology. The sessions examine relationships between environmental exposures and major health issues such as air pollution and lung disease, sun exposure and cancer, pesticide use and fetal development issues, and lead exposure and children’s brain development. 

Social Determinants of Health teaches students to identify the social forces and organizing structures behind persisting inequalities in health and explore key terms including: social fact, agency, structure, culture, social gradient, and social construction.

Public Health Interventions (P6051)

This studio probes key influences on human health looking at social, behavioral, and systems factors through three modules:

Applying Theory to Interventions provides MPH students with an overview of dominant theories used to explain individual-level determinants of health-related behaviors. The module also explores new and emerging theories that have garnered attention within public health research. 

Program Planning, Design, and Evaluation examines principles, methods, and practices in planning and evaluating public health programs. Topics covered include logic models, key constructs and variables, incorporating cause-and-effect theory and technical and experiential evidence into programming decisions, and choosing appropriate types of evaluation to fit the particular research question. Systems Thinking introduces systems thinking as a means of evaluating the complex molecular, biological, and social system interactions causing disease. It also reviews a systems approach to identifying and implementing appropriate policy and interventions to address public health issues over time.

Global and Developmental Perspectives (P6052)

This studio probes key influences on human health through the following three modules:

Life Course teaches students about emerging life course approaches in public health, including how health varies within and across the stages of the life course, and how an understanding of this variation improves public health policies and programs. 

Maternal, Reproductive, and Sexual Health focuses on three key areas. Maternal and Infant Health is a core concern of public health that serves as an example of how approaches to improving health at the population level have developed over the course of the past century. Regulating Reproduction echoes the emphasis on how public health has changed by presenting two contrasting moments: the era of Population Control and the post-Cairo focus on reproductive health. Challenges for the 21st Century looks to two domains that are likely to continue to grow in importance through the 21st century: the notion of sexual health as an element of population health, and rights-based approaches to sexual and reproductive health.

Globalization and Global Health provides an overview of the field of global health through three major units. Global Transformations and Global Health provides a broad historical overview of the shifting paradigms that have shaped the development of tropical medicine, international health, and, most recently, global health. The Global Burden of Disease and Key Global Health Priorities reviews the frameworks and methods that have been developed for comparative understanding of the global burden of disease, and examines trends related to key global health risks. Global Health Governance analyzes the changing architecture of global health governance.

Health Systems (P6060)

This studio delves into the workings of the United States healthcare system and the healthcare systems of other nations, and includes cross-national comparisons. It also touches on the economic aspects of healthcare, historical perspectives on healthcare, different structures for healthcare systems, and United States healthcare policies and laws through the following modules: 

Health Economics examines health from an economic perspective, offering unique insight into the determinants of health and the functioning of the healthcare system. Students explore topics including decentralization, efficiency and equality, externalities, individual choice, opportunity cost, public goods, and scarcity. The course prepares students to understand the varied components of healthcare costs, major economic theories of health insurance, models of investments in health, and issues of health behavior and choice.

U.S. Public Health and Healthcare Systems: Law, Politics, and Policy is designed to give students a basic understanding of the United States healthcare system. Questions include: What are its historical roots? How is the system organized? Who pays the healthcare bill? What role does government play (and how do different levels of government share these tasks)? What best explains the politics of health reform? How will the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, enacted in March 2010, impact the uninsured, the effort to contain healthcare costs, and the effort to improve the quality and efficiency of the American healthcare system? And, how does the U.S. healthcare system compare with its industrialized counterparts around the world?

Comparative Healthcare Systems delves into the different ways countries structure and finance their healthcare delivery systems (referring to all activities whose primary purpose is to improve health), with a focus on the delivery of individual medical services. It also examines how different systems use varied approaches to insure their citizens against the costs of illness, provide basic and advanced health services to people in need, and ensure the quality and safety of healthcare. Lastly the course looks at the role of political leadership and governance of healthcare systems in high-income, middle-income, and low-income countries.