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Course Catalog

306.655.01 Ethical Issues in Public Health

Health Policy and Management
2nd term
3 credits
Academic Year:
2019 - 2020
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • Wednesday,  3:30 - 6:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Anne Barnhill
Course Instructor :
  • Anne Barnhill

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was called a “moral failure.” The former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg, has been called a “finger-wagging nanny” because of his public health efforts, such as attempting to ban the sale of some large sugary drinks. What do these claims mean? What are the ethical values and the assumptions about public health underlying claims like these? This course examines these ethical questions and others, as they bear on a range of topics in public health.

Provides an introduction to ethical issues in public health. Considers how the pursuit of public health can come into conflict with important values and ethical concerns, such as individual autonomy, privacy, and social justice. Also considers the ethical values and moral imperatives that underlie and support public health efforts, and the ethics of a range of public health programs and public health policies, across multiple different public health issues, including obesity prevention, tobacco control, childhood vaccination efforts, and other topics.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Identify and consider ethical issues relevant to public health efforts
  2. Articulate moral arguments for or against different kinds of public health programs and policies
  3. Use ethical skills to interpret ethical debates about current public health issues
Methods of Assessment:

Weekly discussion questions (50%); final paper (50%).

Enrollment Restriction:

Undergraduates must obtain permission of instructor to enroll in this class.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

Undergraduates must have completed coursework in health policy and philosophy or bioethics and obtain permission of instructor to register

For consent, contact: