Courses to consider for Spring 2017

There are a variety of interesting special topic courses related to Nutrition and Health being offerred this spring.  All would be appropriate for supporting courses.  The English and History courses could be petitioned for GH credit.  These courses were brought to my attention by the Penn State Science newsletter, an excellent resource for any of you interested in Health Care careers.  Premedicine and Prehealth E-Newsletter


Hist 197, Sec 001: The History of Epidemics | In the 14th century, a disease that came to be known as the Black Death emerged in Asia and spread along trade routes to Europe, killing an estimated two thirds of the population in one year. Using the Black Death as a starting point, this course will examine the history of epidemics 1350 to the present day through five case studies from across the globe: Black Death (14th century); smallpox (1775-82); cholera (1832-23); influenza (1918); and HIV/AIDS (1980s to the present). A central focus of our course is examining how epidemic and infectious diseases have shaped our world history socially, politically, environmentally, and economically to the present day. We will also examine human responses to epidemics and the ways in which their philosophical and moral implications were debated in artistic, cultural, and intellectual realms. This means that a significant portion of our work will center on analyzing primary sources from women and men who witnessed epidemics, treated the sick, lived and died during various epidemic outbreaks, and attempted to understand them from a range of perspectives. Questions will be investigated concerning epidemics and revolutionary change, social beliefs about disease and danger, the impact of epidemics on economic and social stratification, violence and scapegoating, and the relationship of political philosophies and legitimization of structures of public health and welfare. The final weeks of the course analyze contemporary “pandemic preparedness” policy and responses to health threats including vaccine controversies, the 2014 ebola outbreak, and the ongoing zika outbreak.

Engl 297, Sec 001: Narrative Medicine: Stories and Comics |  Narrative medicine emphasizes stories of illness, with a focus on recognizing, interpreting, and absorbing the needs and experiences of patients.

Kines 497, Sec 901: EKG Interpretation | The course is a combined lecture and lab course, focusing on hands-on skills and EKG packets that reinforce the lectures each week. Five EKG machines in the lab are available to students, who are taught how to read both 12-leads and single channel EKGs as well as several different EKG electrode placement configurations all of which should help them gain employment as EKG techs. A former student, who sent on to PA school, says: “We are taking a lot of content-heavy courses this spring because we are so close to rotations, which has made it a more stressful semester compared to others. I couldn’t imagine going through this semester without at least having a basic understanding of EKGs. Also, being that I’ve always had an interest in pursuing a career as a cardiology PA, I want to thank you so much for offering the EKG class; I can’t tell you how happy I am that I can go into cardiology lectures with a better understanding. They say that PA school is like drinking from a fire hose, which can make some students shy away from specialties that they were once interested in before beginning the curriculum. I can say that I am still 100% interested in going into cardiology, and the ability to read EKGs before I got to school is one of the reasons why.”

BIOL 297, Sec 001: Visual Body Studies in Anatomy | This course uses the field of anatomical illustration to explore the history of medicine and our understanding of the human body. Charting the influence of visual art and imaging systems as essential aspects of medicine, this survey of art and historical imagery connects the study of human anatomy with principles of visual literacy and design. In addition to researching historical publications through writing and discussions, students will produce a research portfolio based on illustrations examined in the course. Lab activities with human cadavers will help students learn the basics of human anatomy within a historical context. No fine arts skills are required to take this course: only an enthusiasm for the study of human anatomy and its visual history.

Soc 297, Sec 001 (AFAM 397): Urban Inequalities | This course provides orientation to the social, structural, ethnic, and ideological dimensions of modern US cities and their linked global environments. Focus is on historical and socio-economic determinants of inequalities including racial/ethnic divisions in economics; law enforcement; education; and environmental resources.  Models for explaining the formation of ghetto or disordered communities; uneven distribution of crime, preventable health problems; environmental hazards, and other social problems are explored.

CHE 497, Sec 2: Drug Delivery | This course will examine the application of chemical engineering principles (thermodynamics, transport, and kinetics) to the analysis of a number of interesting biomedical systems including temperature regulation, drug delivery, pharmacokinetics, and artificial organs. One of the goals of this course is to understand how engineers go about developing appropriate models for complex biological systems.  Emphasis will be placed on identifying the key physical/biological phenomena governing the system behavior; you do not need to have any background in Biology to take the course (I will provide the necessary background material as needed).   Where appropriate, we will also examine some of the social, political, and economic implications of biomedical engineering in our society, including the rapidly growing cost of medical technology.

HDFS 497, Sec 1: Health Technology and Personal Data Collection| In this class, we will examine upcoming health technologies such as wearables (e.g. FitBit, Apple Watch, etc), fitness and motivation apps, and online therapy and rehabilitation tools.  The class will focus on the application of these technologies, the individual data that can be collected from them, and the way that both the tech and the data can be used (and abused) by companies, scientists, health care providers, and the individuals themselves.  Topics will include technologies such as personal data collection tools like FitBits, motivational smartphone apps, and self-quantification web pages; technological modes of health treatment delivery such as robotic surgery, online psychotherapy, and virtual reality-based rehabilitation tools; and online data storage systems like Apple HealthKit and electronic health record systems.  For each of these topics, we will address state of the art and future directions as well the potential advantages and disadvanatages of such systems for personal health, practitioner health care and treatment, individual privacy, scientific research, corporate/business interests, and public policy decision making.


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