Environmental Change, Disease and Public Health
M/W/F 11:00-11:50; 250 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
3) Kidder, T. (2009) Mountains Beyond
Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer. Random
Markowitz and Rosner (2013)
Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and
the Fate of America's Children.
Recommended Books (don't
(2013) The Epigenetics Revolution: How Modern
Biology Is Rewriting Our Understanding of Genetics, Disease,
Columbia University Press.
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 York: Hyperion.
Guthman, J. (2011) Weighing In: Obesity, Food Justice, and
the Limits of Capitalism. UC Press.
Langston, N. (2010) Toxic Bodies: Hormone Disruptors
and the Legacy of DES. Yale University
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 Press.
Patel, R. (2012) Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden
Battle for the World Food System. Melville House.
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 some
Other assignments may be added.