Environmental Change, Disease and Public Health
M/W/F 11:00-11:50; 205 Olson
Professor D. K. Davis, DVM, PhD
Transmission Electron Micrograph of the Ebola virus. Image source:
This course analyzes
environmental change at multiple scales and how these changes
have influenced disease and public health over time. It
takes as a starting point that the “environment” includes not
only deserts, mountains, plains, fields and rivers, but also
farms, slaughter houses, hospitals and the bodies of
humans and animals. The changes that have taken places in
these varied environments have included the obvious like
pollution, modern agriculture and irrigation, and the damming of
rivers, all of which have impacted various disease states.
These environmental changes also include those at the
micro-scale that are not so obvious like creating antibiotic
resistance and the conditions for super contamination of large
quantities of food with pathogenic organisms such as E. coli
0157:H7 and Salmonella. Furthermore, these transformations may
be changing our epigenomes with what we eat, drink and breathe
in ways that induce illness. All of these changes have had
complex impacts on human health. Many of these
environmental changes have been driven by human action over the
last several millennia. The pace and scope of such changes
and their health effects have become quicker and more pervasive
during our era of “globalization.”
critical to understand these changes in order to build a more
sustainable future for people and the planet.
Anyone interested in environmental change, disease and public
health is welcome in this class, from history students to
pre-med and pre-vet students!
Fulfills the GE Science &
Engineering; Social Science; & Scientific Literacy
Prerequisite: None, but Designed for Upper Division
Note: This is a 10 day drop class.
1) Desowitz, R.
(1987) New Guinea
Tapeworms and Jewish Grandmothers: Tales of Parasites
and Peoples. W. W. Norton.
2) Schlosser, E. (2012) Fast Food Nation.
3) Kidder, T. (2009) Mountains Beyond Mountains: The
Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random House.
4) Patel, R. (2012) Stuffed and
Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
Recommended Books (don't buy yet!):
Davis, Mike (2005) The
Monster at our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu.
New York: The New Press.
Garrett, Laurie (2000) Betrayal
of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health. New
Guthman, J. (2011) Weighing
In: Obesity, Food Justice, and the Limits of Capitalism.
Langston, N. (2010) Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors and the Legacy of
DES. Yale University Press.
Nash, L. (2007) Inescapable Ecologies:
A History of Environment, Disease, and
Knowledge. UC Press.
Nestle, M. (2013) Food Politics: How the
Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. UC
Articles and book chapters will compliment the main texts and be
available on smartsite or canvas.
Basis of Grading:
Students will be evaluated based on their performance on quizzes
and exams (mid-term & final) and written
Other assignments may be added.