Global Health: Problems and Paradigms

  • Global Health Students at Duke Marine Lab
    Global Health Students at Duke Marine Lab
  • Global Health Students at Duke Marine Lab
    Global Health Students at Duke Marine Lab
  • Global Health Students at State Fair
    Global Health Students at State Fair
  • Global Health Students Playing Pandemic
    Global Health Students Playing Pandemic


Health is affected, for better or worse, by almost every human act. Examining human health across regions, populations, and cultures reveals wide variations in health burdens and outcomes. However, how health inequity is generated and determining how to rectify it are complex processes requiring a range of methodologies. The goal of this FOCUS program is to help students identify factors that influence global health, ask critical questions about processes and paradigms to improve health, and develop possible solutions for targeted populations.


Biology 180FS — Emerging Diseases (NS, STS)

Sherryl Broverman, Associate Professor of the Practice in Biology and Global Health

Why are some infectious diseases easier to control or eliminate than others? Where do new diseases come from? What role do microbes and parasites play in human evolution? What factors – biological, social, and cultural – facilitate disease emergence or reduction? How can we use what we’ve learned from past attempts at disease eradication to improve current programs? Students will student global diseases from a biological and global health perspective and will focus on several case studies such as malaria, Ebola, influenza, or newly emerged threats. These diseases and others will be used to address the human relationship with microbes; the evolution of disease and resistance; vaccine development and immunization programs; ethics of public health programs; tropical diseases versus diseases of poverty; and factors that stimulate disease emergence. No previous background in biology is required.

Global Health 201FS — Confronting Global Health Challenges: What Would You Do? (SS, CCI, STS)

Jonathan Quick, Adjunct Professor of Global Health

Saving lives and improving health requires wise decision-making by local, national, & international health leaders and communities: policies, strategies, programs at the heart of success. This course will engage students in political, economic, cultural, psychosocial, human rights, equity considerations in five key areas of global health: universal healthcare, women’s health, global pandemics, product-driven epidemics, & global warming health impacts. Students' critical analysis & decision-making skills will be developed though active learning teaching cases, role plays, debates, and simulations from actual situations faced by health leaders at all levels.

Global Health 189FS/Science and Society 189FS — “To Boldly Go!” Global Health and the American Way of Engagement (CCI, EI, STS, CZ)

Amy Laura Hall, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Duke Divinity School

This course will help students think ethically about the assumptions and language of “Global Health” in the U.S and the ethical challenges of cross-cultural engagement. The title comes from Roddenberry's Star Trek (1966), and we will use the series to think about technology, exploration, and encounter. We will use texts that examine how culture and power in the U.S. have framed interactions with and control of people inside the U.S. and in other countries, from people carrying contagious disease to women whose bodies represent a threat to a proposed social order.  Students will analyze historical documents and images from popular culture and write close analyses identifying the underlying ethical and cultural frameworks in these documents.

Global Health 187FS — Effectively Addressing Modern Pandemics of Disease: What Did We Do Wrong to Get So Sick? (NS, STS)

William Parker, Associate Professor of Surgery

This course will explore Western disease and its root causes. At the same time, students will investigate what modern medicine has done to address the issues, and will discuss the effectiveness and magnitude of that effort. For each case study, students will determine what might have gone wrong, how could it have been done differently, and what forces might be at play that have prevented effective action. The pharmaceutical paradigm that currently governs both modern medicine and biomedical research will be carefully examined. Students will be encouraged to envision and critically examine potential alternatives. Open only to students in the Focus Program. No previous background in biology is required.

Faculty Director

Sherryl A Broverman
Sherryl A Broverman
  • Associate Professor of the Practice, Biology and Global Health
BioSci 307B
Campus Box: 
(919) 668-0228