Summer 2023 - HSCI 308 D100

Sickness and Wealth: Health in Global Perspective (3)

Class Number: 3266

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Jun 19, 2023: Mon, Wed, 2:30–5:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units. Recommended: HSCI 130.



New formations of wealth and power that contribute to international health disparities and consideration of the relations of power both between and within nation-states that make some people sick and keep others well. Economic and political collusions that make people sick. Infectious disease and child survival, health implications of war, biotech, and the politics of food and water.


Instructor: Dr. Susan Erikson
Email: Please use this email. (I don't check the Canvas email). Include HSCI 308 2023 in email subject line.

This course runs during Intersession from May 8-June 19, 2023
Mondays and Wednesdays, 2:30-5:20pm.
6.5 weeks, two 3-hour classes/week.
In-person, Blusson Hall 9011.
PowerPoints will be posted after class.
Classes will not be recorded.
No phones, no computers.

Course Description: This course is about the global political economy of health. What political and economic arrangements increase the likelihood of sickness? Of well-being? We examine the uneven playing fields for human health created states, markets, and supra-national organizations like the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. We explore 1) the institutional arrangements and everyday practices that contribute to and often maintain global health disparities; 2) the relations of power between and within nation-states that keep some people well and make others sick; and 3) the economic and political collusions that make people sick and well.  In rich and poor countries alike and particularly in arenas of human services and critical public infrastructures, we are witnessing not only old forms of inequity and disorder, but also newly chaotic and exploitative social spaces. Topics covered include colonial histories of health; health finance; water; food; medicine; how governments and businesses support and subvert human health.



By course end, students should be able to:
1. Identify global institutional and economic arrangements that increase the likelihood of sickness.
2. Identify and weigh impact of contributing and complex factors of human health phenomena.
3. Name and critique elements of economic systems that shape global health outcomes.
4. Demonstrate critical thinking in preparatory, oral, and written work, specifically demonstrating an ability to identify fallacies of reasoning and strength of evidence.


  • Exam 1 - May 29, 2023 35%
  • Exam 2 - June 14, 2023 35%
  • Critical Thinking Assignment due May 15, 2023 10%
  • Logical Fallacies Quiz on May 24, 2023 10%
  • Participation 10%


Here's what you need to know about HSCI 308 May 8 - June 19, 2023:

  • The course is designed for students who really want to understand why some people get sick and others don’t; it’s about the environments, business, politics, and governments of sickness.
  • The classes: They’re 3 hours long, and I lecture only for the first hour or so. There are activities, simulations, and discussions in every class.
  • There is a lot of talking with other people, lots of back and forth between students, and with the teacher. The class is designed for students to freely share ideas and hear a diversity of opinions. So if you don’t like to talk and aren’t willing to try, the course is probably not for you. It’s not about owning the perfect idea, but rather about using conversation and discussion to sharpen your own thoughts, opinions, and understandings about why people get sick. It’s also about building confidence to speak in groups. The course asks hard questions without fear. In class we explore ideas about things without students having to be perfect or say the perfect thing. We just try to work through ideas through talking and everyone sharing thoughts about what things mean.
  • The readings: There’s no way to do well in this class without reading the assignments. When I've asked students to advise the next class how to succeed in HSCI 308, they always mention the readings and how important it is to do them. But they are well-written and on the shorter side of university reading assignments.
  • The classroom: Setup is tables, not rows of lecture seats.
  • The exams: It’s hard to cheat in this course. There are two exams, in person, invigilated. Each exam is newly made up (doesn’t use previous year exam questions).
  • The exams are a mix of multiple choice, matching, and short essay that you write out by hand.
  • The exams are based on the readings and the in-class experiences. Pretty much everything we do in class is examinable.
  • No phones or computers in class.
  • It’s really hard to do well in this course if you don’t show up to class or don’t do the readings. It’s definitely not a course to take “just for credit” or to squeeze in before graduation. It’s not the course to take if you’re taking 4 other courses.
  • Every year a bunch of people earn A+s in the course and every year a couple of people fail the course. There’s a pattern: Those who failed didn’t come to class, didn’t read the readings, and/or wouldn’t use the class discussion activities to learn more than what they already knew.
  • The course is six weeks long, twice a week, Mon and Wed afternoons. Kinda intense.
  • Canvas for this course will be opened May 7, 2023
  • I love teaching this course and I want you to succeed in it.

Course dates:
First day of class: May 8, 2023
Last day of class: June 19, 2023






Prerequisite: HSCI 130



Readings will be posted on Canvas no later than May 7, 2023


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.