Spring 2020 - HSCI 821 G100

Introduction to Global Health (3)

Class Number: 7083

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    BLU 9021, Burnaby

  • Instructor:

    John Calvert
    1 778 782-8163



This is a survey course in global health. The course introduces students to fundamental concepts, frameworks and vocabulary that underwrite the logics of global health, as well as important histories and milestones in the field. A survey will be conducted of the most significant topic areas in the field, considering epidemiological patterns, etiology, approaches to improving health outcomes and the policy ramifications of our knowledge.


This survey course in global health will introduce students to the main determinats of health and disease from a global perspective, including fundamental concepts and theoretical frameworks. This includes defining and measuring health, disability and the quality of life; identifying indicators of health and development; and, documenting major trends in demographic and epidemiological transitions that are occurring globally. The focus is on the interaction of biological, ecological, social, economic, political and cultural determinants of health. Increasingly, these determinants are shaped by the process called globalization. Broadly defined, globalization entails the increasing integration of countries, economies and human societies through trade, communications, technology, cultural diffusion and population shifts.

The course is organized into weekly sessions, each addressing a core theme. In the early sessions, it will assess the historical factors shaping population health and the burden of disease in developing and developed countries, including the legacy of colonization. It will then examine specific issues in global health, including: communicable and non-communicable diseases, nutrition and food security, migration, conflict, reproductive health, mental health and the design and organization of health care systems. It will also examine recent trends such as the increase in inequality, both within and between countries and its impact on population health.

Economic and political power relationships have shaped the process of globalization and its resulting health outcomes, as have the actions of a variety of international institutions, including the WHO, IMF, World Bank, ILO, WTO, private foundations and NGOs. The course will examine the mandate and activities of these organizations and their role in global health governance. It will also look at the role Canada plays.

A final, but critical, issue addressed by the course is climate change, which many scientists now believe is the most significant challenge facing our species. It will examine the global health dimensions of the climate challenge and consider strategies to meet the challenge, including the role the health community should play in this process.


By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Critically appraise how the concept of globalization is variably used within the scholarly and policy communities
  • Describe some of the key features of globalization and the differing ways it impacts population health in developed and developing countries, including changes in the trajectory of major diseases over time
  • Explain some of the key impacts of globalization in a range of health specific areas such as communicable and non-communciable diseases, food security, mental health, child health, women's health, occupational health and the environment 
  • Identify the relative influence of key actors and organizations that have shaped - and continue to shape - the field of global health
  • Recognize how the intersection of class, race, ethnicity, gender and other markers of social location are related to global health outcomes
  • Explain the influence of historical process such as colonization, economic integration, technological developments and free trade on health outcmes
  • Describe how globalization affects the development of health care systems and its impact on the role of the public and private sectors in these systems
  • Recognize some of the major theoretical tensions that underlie different approaches to improving global health
  • Explain the distinction between primary health care and targetted, selective approaches to health care and why this distinction is important
  • Outline Canada's complex role as an actor in shaping global health outcomes, both positively and negatively
  • Assess how climate change is impacting health, globally, and with respect to specific populations, regions and diseases
  • Formulate policy objectives and corresponding strategies to address global health challenges


  • Weekly Participation 10%
  • Group Work 30%
  • Term Paper 30%
  • Final Exam 30%



Non Required


Labonte, Ronald and Arne Ruckert (2019). Health Equity in a Globalizing Era: Past Challenges, Future Prospects. Oxford Unviersity Press. (available on-line through SFU's Library System)
A selecton of peer reviewed articles 
A selection of documents produced by governments, international agencies and NGOs


A slection of recommended readings will be included in the detailed course outline provided on the first day of class

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: http://www.sfu.ca/dean-gradstudies/current/important_dates/guidelines.html. The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html