Global health at the crossroads

By Barbara Gutierrez

Global health at the crossroads

By Barbara Gutierrez
A new Spring 2019 course at UM will teach students ways to think rigorously about the state of global health, and look for solutions.

Global health is at a crucial moment. The disparities between the health and well-being of diverse populations have never been greater. Changes in demographics, from population growth to rapid urbanizations, matched with unprecedented shifts in patterns of disease and cross-border risks come at a time of game-changing advances in knowledge, technology, and innovation. 

What will the future bring to the many affected populations? 

Some of the answers may come from a new University of Miami course called “Introduction to Global Health: Effective Responses to Hemispheric Challenges.” This is the first course co-taught by UM President Julio Frenk, an expert on global health, and First Lady Felicia Knaul, director of the UM Institute for Advanced Study of the Americas (U-MIA) and a noted health economist. Natalia Rodriguez, research assistant professor of anthropology, will also co-teach the Spring 2019 course. 

“I was craving to teach again because I really enjoy it,” said Frenk, a medical doctor who has taught at Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “I always think the most important thing you can teach a student is how to think critically about a topic. This course is about providing a framework to think rigorously about global health.” 

Through class lectures from the teachers and invited guests, discussions, and an examination of case studies, the interdisciplinary course will cover a broad range of topics in global health with a focus on emerging challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“Our hope is that students will take away applied knowledge of a number of relevant disciplines, including public health, health systems analysis, economics, sociology, and political science,” said Knaul. 

Knaul said that the course should give students “the ability to devise solutions to some of the most pressing health issues affecting our world and lift our people out of poverty.” 

The course objectives include understanding the historical context of global health and evolving agendas, identifying emerging global health challenges in the 21st century and analyzing global health issues in a way that transcends medical and health perspectives and incorporates ethical, environmental, political, and societal perspectives. 


Course numbers: LAS301 / LAS681 / EPH613 / BPH499 / INS503 / INS605 / GEG625 / GEG590 / APY418 (available for two or three credit hours) 

Day/Time:      January 15 – February 19; March 26 – April 16(10 weeks total)

Tuesdays, 5 to 7:40 p.m. (two-credit instructor lecture component)

Thursdays, 5 to 6:15 p.m. (additional guest lecture component for the three-credit option)