Global History of Public Health (Winter 2018)

Draft. See Blackboard or syllabus distributed in class for official version.


HIST 335 – Global History of Public Health

Professor: Dr. Benjamin Bryce

Term: Winter 2018

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 14:30-15:50

Location: Geoffrey R. Weller Library 5-168

Course Description: This course explores the history of public health in a global context from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The course examines how health has played an integral role in the creation of nation-states, debates about morality and reproduction, and ideas about race. It also provides students with new perspectives on global history and the connections that transcended the boundaries of individual countries. Focusing in particular on the relationship between health and citizenship, the course asks how health policies have set the boundaries of inclusion and exclusion and how science and medicine have been mobilized to the detriment of groups of people defined by their gender, class, race, or ethnicity.

Learning Objectives:

1) A greater understanding of the history of health.

2) A greater ability to describe how gender, class, race, and ethnicity have influenced health practices.

3) A greater understanding of the connections between local, national, and global history.

4) A greater ability to analyze historiography.

Course Structure: Class time in this course will be divided between lectures and group discussions of assigned reading. Tuesdays will generally consist of a lecture, and Thursday will generally be dedicated to a discussion of the readings.


  1. Participation, ongoing, 15%
  2. Attendance, ongoing, 5%
  3. In-class presentation , dates to be assigned in the first class, 10%
  4. Bibliography and essay proposal, Thursday, February 8, 10%
  5. Term test, Tuesday, March 6, 20%
  6. Essay presentations, Tuesday, March 20 and Thursday, March 22, 10%
  7. Historiographic research essay, Tuesday, April 3, 30%
  1. Participation. As a third-year course, discussion is an important part of learning. Students are expected to attend class regularly and to actively participate in the discussion of the readings. Students will be required to read approximately 70 pages per week, and they should demonstrate a mastery of the readings and share some critical thoughts about the arguments presented. Contributions to the discussion should be based on the readings and be respectful to classmates.
  2. Attendance. Regular attendance is a requirement in this course. The attendance grade is separated from the participation grade in order to emphasize the importance of participating in discussions in addition to showing up for class.
  3. In-class presentation. Dates to be chosen in the first week of class. Each student will have to make one presentation to the group (4-5 minutes) on the main themes that appear in one article or book chapter from the week’s assigned readings. Students should identify the main argument of the article or chapter and connect it to the general themes of the course. Students should conclude with two broad questions that stimulate discussion. There will be two or three presentations each week, and students are to coordinate among themselves which topic they will present on. Each student will present on only one article or chapter.

3.b. Article review. Instead of an in-class presentation, students may write a 500-word review of an assigned article. For this alternative assignment, students must choose and article (and not a chapter from the Stepan book). A strong review will go beyond summarizing the main points and argument and also highlight the article’s strengths and its contribution to a broader historiographic conversation (as indicated by the author and based on other course readings). The review is due in the week the article is assigned and on the Thursday before class begins. The review must be completed before March 20 even if the chosen article is to be read by the class at a later date.

  1. Bibliography and essay proposal. 200 words and eight titles. Students will have to select a topic for their research essay well in advance of the due date. For this short assignment, students are asked to write a 200-word paragraph that outlines the general thrust of their essay and that explains their research question. In addition, students are required to include a bibliography of at least eight scholarly articles, books, or chapters in an edited volume that they will use for their research essay. Students are encouraged to use some books, either those found in the UNBC library or acquired through the interlibrary loan system. Students should note that the interlibrary loan system takes about one week for delivery. This bibliography does not require any annotation. Students are welcome to discuss their ideas with Dr. Bryce during his office hours in the weeks leading up to the due date.
  1. Term test. 1 hour, in class on Tuesday, March 6. Students will be asked to answer two of four questions in essay form. Evaluation will be based on the demonstrated mastery of lectures and readings, and questions will be broad enough to allow students to discuss several weeks of readings and lectures.
  1. Essay presentations. Each student will give a 5-minute presentation on his or her research essay. Both of our 80-minute classes that week will be dedicated to these presentations. Students are expected to present something more advanced than their bibliography and essay proposal, but they are not expected to have a polished version of their essays. The goal of this assignment is threefold. First, students will learn about new topics in the history of health from their classmates’ research. Second, classmates will pose a few brief questions to the presenter that may help the author strengthen his or her analysis for the final essay. Third, the activity will ensure that students are prepared for the final research essay due two weeks later in class.
  1. Historiographic research essay. 10-12 pages. Students will be asked to write a historiographic research essay. Students must identify and analyze a topic in the history of health. They are to draw from at least ten publications (books, articles, or chapters in edited volumes). Outside research is required, and at least eight books, articles, or chapters not assigned in this course must be examined. Students can analyze research assigned in class, but it must be in addition to ten other publications. The topic is open but it must relate to one of the themes of the course.


Nancy Leys Stepan. Eradication: Ridding the World of Diseases Forever? Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2011.

Journal articles are listed in the course overview below. They can be accessed via the library’s catalogue.

Course overview:

January 4 – Introduction

  • Readings:
  • Nancy Stepan, Eradication, Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2, pages 6-65.

January 9 and 11 – Migration and Borders

  • Readings:
    • Krista Maglen. “‘The First Line of Defence’: British Quarantine and the Port Sanitary Authorities in the Nineteenth Century.” Social History of Medicine 15 (2002): 413-428.
    • Julia Rodriguez. “Inoculating against Barbarism? State Medicine and Immigrant Policy in Turn-of-the-Century Argentina.” Science in Context 19 (2006): 357-380.
    • Amy Fairchild. “The Rise and Fall of the Medical Gaze: The Political Economy of Immigrant Medical Inspection in Modern America.” Science in Context 19, no. 3 (2006): 337–56.

January 16 and 18 – Health in Schools

  • Readings:
  • Mona Gleason. “Race, Class, and Health: School Medical Inspection and ‘Healthy’ Children in British Columbia, 1890 to 1930.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 19 (2002): 95-112.
  • Mary Anne Poutanen. “Containing and Preventing Contagious Disease: Montreal’s Protestant School Board and Tuberculosis, 1900-1947.” Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 23 (2006): 401-428.

Last day to add/drop courses without financial penalty. Last day to change from audit to credit and credit to audit status. January 17.

January 23 and 25 – Health and Race

  • Readings:
    • Alexandra Minna Stern, “Buildings, Boundaries, and Blood: Medicalization and Nation-Building on the U.S.-Mexico Border.” Hispanic American Historical Review 79 (1999): 41-81.
  • Mary Ellen Kelm. “Diagnosing the Discursive Indian: Medicine, Gender, and the ‘Dying Race’.” Ethnohistory 52 (2005): 371-406.

January 30 and February 1 – The Spanish Flu

  • Class only meets on January 30. No class on February 1.
  • Readings:
  • Niall Johnson and Juergen Mueller. “Updating the Accounts: Global Mortality of the 1918-1920 ‘Spanish’ Influenza Pandemic.” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 76 (2002): 105-115.
    • Mark Humphries. “Paths of Infection: The First World War and the Origins of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,” War in History 21 (2014): 55-81.
  • Svenn-Erik Mamelund, Lisa Sattenspiel, and Jessica Dimka. “Influenza-Associated Mortality during the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic in Alaska and Labrador: A Comparison.” Social Science History 37 (2013): 177-229.

February 6 and 8 – Health, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the League of Nations

  • Readings:
    • Nancy Leys Stepan, Eradication, Chapter 3, pages 66-103.
    • Tomoko Akami. “Imperial Polities, Intercolonialism, and the Shaping of Global Governing Norms: Public Health Expert Networks in Asia and the League of Nations Health Organization, 1908–37.” Journal of Global History, 12 (2017): 4-25.

Bibliography and essay proposal. Due Thursday, February 8. 

February 13 and 15

  • Reading week. No readings and no classes.

February 20 and 22 – The World Health Organization and Eradication of Disease

  • Readings:
    • Nancy Leys Stepan, Eradication, Chapters 4 and 5, pages 104-183

Last day to withdraw without academic penalty. February 22.

February 27 and March 1 – Eugenics

  • Readings:
    • Frank Dikötter. “Race Culture: Recent Perspectives on the History of Eugenics.” American Historical Review 103, no. 2 (1998): 467–78.
    • Richard Soloway. “The ‘Perfect Contraceptive’: Eugenics and Birth Control Research in Britain and America in the Interwar Years.” Journal of Contemporary History 30 (1995): 637-664.
    • Molly Ladd-Taylor. “Saving Babies and Sterilizing Mothers: Eugenics and Welfare Politics in the Interwar United States.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 136-153.

March 6 and 8 – Eugenics II

  • Readings:
    • Alberto Spektorowski. “The Eugenic Temptation in Socialism: Sweden, Germany, and the
Soviet Union.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 46 (2004): 84-106.
    • Alexandra Minna Stern. “‘The Hour of Eugenics’ in Veracruz, Mexico: Radical Politics, Public Health,
and Latin America’s Only Sterilization Law.” Hispanic American Historical Review 91 (2011): 431-443.

Term test. Tuesday, March 6

March 13 and 15 – Venereal Disease

  • Readings:
    • Anna Lundberg. “Paying the Price of Citizenship: Gender and Social Policy on Venereal Disease in Stockholm, 1919-1944.” Social Science History 32 (2008): 215-234.
    • Mary Louise Roberts. “The Price of Discretion: Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and the American Military in France, 1944–1946.” American Historical Review 115 (2010): 1002-1030.
    • Annette Timm. “Sex with a Purpose: Prostitution, Venereal Disease, and Militarized Masculinity in the Third Reich.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 11 (2002): 223-255.

March 20 and 22 – Essay Presentations

  • No readings
  • Essay presentations

March 27 and 29 – Family Health and Population Control

  • Readings:
    • Cornelie Usborne. “Rhetoric and Resistance: Rationalization of Reproduction in Weimar Germany.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 65-89.
    • Johanna Schoen. “Fighting for Child Health: Race, Birth Control, and the State in the Jim Crow South.” Social Politics 4 (1997): 90-113.
    • Raúl Necochea López. “Priests and Pills: Catholic Family Planning in Peru, 1967-1976.” Latin American Research Review 43 (2008): 34-56.

April 3 and 5 – Vaccines

  • Class only meets on April 3. No class on April 5.
  • Readings:
    • Nancy Leys Stepan, Eradication, Chapters 6 and 7, pages 224-261.

Research essay. Due in class on Tuesday, April 3

Blackboard: This course uses Blackboard. Detailed descriptions of the assignments will be posted on Blackboard three weeks before the due date. Students should check this site regularly. Grades will not be posted to the Grade Centre in Blackboard.

Evaluation of written work: Assignments will be returned accompanied by comments noting areas that need attention. Assignments will only be returned to the writer. Questions about grades cannot be answered effectively by e-mail. Please read carefully the Definition of Grades (above) before discussing your grade on an assignment with Dr. Bryce. If you ask for an assignment to be reconsidered, note that your grade could go either up or down.

E-mail policy: Please use e-mail to communicate with me only for administrative matters. Please come to the scheduled office hours to address questions that you have or raise them in class. If you cannot make it to my office hours, please e-mail me to set up an alternative appointment. I will respond to e-mails within 48 hours, so please do not leave your inquiries to the last minute. Please take the time to compose a formal e-mail. Assignments will not be accepted by email. Please use your UNBC e-mail address to communicate with me, and please check this e-mail account regularly to receive updates about this course.

Writing centres: Take advantage of the free services offered at the drop-in writing centre in the library ( The Academic Success Centre also provides helpful services to students for free (

Technology etiquette in the classroom: Laptops may be used in class, but only for note taking. I advise that you print a copy of the notes that you take on the assigned readings and participate in class discussions using those notes. Please turn off your cellphones before class begins. It is inappropriate to surf the web or send text messages during any class at the University of Northern British Columbia.

 Submission of written work and lateness penalty: Assignments are due in class on the date specified in this syllabus. If an assignment is not handed in in class, it is considered a day late. The late submission of an assignment will be penalized in an exponential manner. For each day an assignment is late, the penalty will be as follows: 1%, 2%, 4%, 8%, 16%, 32%, 64%, 100%. This late penalty applies to weekends and holidays as well. No assignments will be accepted after eight days without a valid medical certificate. To submit a late assignment, hand in a paper version to the administrative assistant in the Department of History (Loreen Obst, whose office is room 3007 on the third floor of McCaffray Hall) before 16:30 on a weekday. She will date-stamp the essay. Once you hand in the paper version, send me an e-mail and a digital copy of your essay so that I know to look for it in my mailbox. If you wish to hand in an assignment on a weekend or after hours, send me your assignment via e-mail and then hand in the hardcopy on the next business day. The Department of History will not be held responsible for any late assignments that go missing. Be sure to retain a copy of your paper and keep all your notes and drafts. If you have extenuating circumstances that will prevent you from submitting your assignment on time, discuss your situation with me in advance of the due date.

Illness and absences: Notify Dr. Bryce as soon as possible if a serious illness or other concern is affecting your ability to keep up with the course. It is also wise to contact the UNBC Wellness Centre or the Registrar’s Office if you are experiencing academic or personal difficulties.

Academic honesty and plagiarism: Authors do not cite sources properly merely to avoid accusations of plagiarism but also to establish credibility, bring other work to the reader’s attention, and demonstrate competing viewpoints.

The University of Northern British Columbia takes academic honesty very seriously. Any suspected cases of plagiarism will be investigated. More information on the University’s procedures on academic offences can be found here:

The code of academic conduct disallows the following:

  • to represent as one’s own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism;
  • to submit, without the knowledge and approval of the instructor to whom it is submitted, any academic work for which credit has previously been obtained or is being sought in another course or program of study in the university or elsewhere.

Accessibility and accommodations: Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability/health consideration that may require course format accommodation, please feel free to approach Dr. Bryce to discuss your needs. If you require accommodations for a disability, or have accessibility concerns about the course, the classroom or course materials, please contact the Access Resource Centre for Students with Disabilities at (

Student conduct: The University of Northern British Columbia is an academic community whose purpose is to search for knowledge through teaching, research, and the free exchange of ideas. As such, UNBC is committed to developing among its members an enduring sense of community rooted in a working and learning environment which emphasizes mutual respect and tolerance and which is free from discrimination, harassment, disruptive behaviour, and violence. The members of the UNBC community include students, faculty, staff, administrators, governors, senators, and, in certain contexts, visitors. In order for the members of the university community to participate fully and effectively in the university’s purpose, certain standards of conduct must be recognized and respected. The university’s policy and procedures involving disruptive and/or harassing behaviour by students in academic situations is available on this website: