Document Type

Undergraduate Syllabus


Fall 2014



Course Number


Course Description

Health issues, including infectious diseases, have affected world history more extensively than most of us can imagine. In today’s world, international trade and travel threaten pandemics by transporting and spreading diseases 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 interacting with greater frequency and intensity. This development parallels post-Cold War efforts to redefine the concept of security to encompass new global challenges. How did epidemics function as causal agents of historical change? What are the major linkages between health and security? Should new global health challenges (e.g., non-communicable diseases) be framed as problems that require attention and response 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?

This interdisciplinary course focuses on global health security. It has four main objectives: 1) to examine the historical impact of infectious disease, be it naturally occurring or deliberately caused; 2) to clarify the processes by which health problems function to threaten human, national or international security; 3) to evaluate emerging global health challenges and their potential security implications; and 4) to explore the pros and cons of securitizing global health challenges.