Health, Law and Justice

At a Glance

Health, Law and Justice is an intensive, interactive, interdisciplinary semester designed for students with career interests in public policy, medicine and health care, law, ethics, business, and social research, and for any student curious to understand how the American health care system works in practice.  The broad theme of health care reform allows students to build on prior studies across a range of fields, including HSSP, Politics, Sociology, Philosophy, Business, Social Justice and Social Policy, or Legal Studies. Emphasizing the interplay of public policy and social justice, the semester will focus on current challenges in implementing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as how changing laws and policies will affect the experience of individual patients.

Through coursework and hands-on learning, students will explore the unusual structure of American health care, in stark contrast to the systems found in other advanced countries, and the implementation challenges that the new law faces in promoting the just distribution of health care at an affordable cost.  In addition to exploring the general health care system, Health, Law and Justice will also examine how current changes in health policy may raise bioethical issues--and even controversies-- involving, e.g., the patient/doctor relationship, treatment choices, reproductive rights, and end-of-life care.  Understanding such controversies necessitates a foundation in basic ethical theory (e.g., utilitarian theories and natural law theories) and its role in determining the justice and dignity due to individuals navigating through the system.  These bioethical considerations help shape broader questions of justice and the overall design and purposes of health care law and policy.

Each week of the program, students will engage with these diverse issues in seminar discussions, with hands-on projects that show how the health system operates in practice, through simulations, and by field visits to the sites where policy and practice come together.  Through experiential fieldwork, students will prepare to meet with policy makers in state and federal systems, health care providers and insurers, advocacy groups and regulators, health plan consumers, and patients making complex health choices.  These many experiences will enable students to ask critical questions about “what comes next for American healthcare?”  As future leaders and global citizens, students will gain the experience, confidence and connections to promote further changes in American policy and practice.

LGLS 114aj: American Health Care: Law and Policy
LGLS 131bj: Patient Autonomy: Law, Medicine, and Ethics
LGLS 98bj: Independent Research