Document Type

Graduate Syllabus


Fall 2012



Course Number


Course Description

In today’s world, international trade and travel threaten epidemics by transporting and spreading infectious disease globally at jet speed. The growing risk of exposure to infectious disease, coupled with the looming threat of bioterrorism, creates a situation in which health and security are intersecting with greater frequency. This development parallels post-Cold War efforts to redefine the concept of security to encompass new global challenges. To what extent does health fit this new security agenda? What are the major linkages between health and security? Should other global health challenges (e.g., non-communicable chronic diseases) be framed as security problems that demand attention from the national security community? How does this “securitization of health” affect the international governance of particular health problems? Conversely, how do the discussions and debates on health security transform our understanding of security in the contemporary world?

This course is an interdisciplinary survey that focuses on issues of health security. It has four content objectives: 1) to examine the nature and history of biological weapons and the complexities involved in bringing them under control; 2) to identify the processes by which existing public health problems function to threaten national and international security; 3) to evaluate emerging global health challenges and their potential security implications; and 4) to explore the pros and cons of securitizing health challenges and the policy options addressing such challenges.