Health, Law and Justice

June 1-July 31, 2015

Professors Sarah Curi and Alice Noble | 10 Weeks, 12 Credits | June 1-August 7, 2015

Health, Law and Justice students will explore the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other U.S. health care reforms through the lens of social justice. We will (1) investigate the inner workings of the American health care system to evaluate the success of the ACA in distributing health care in a just and affordable manner; and (2) address current bioethical debates, particularly those surrounding patient/doctor relationships, treatment choices, reproductive rights, and end-of-life care. Through these lines of inquiry, we will raise - and seek to answer - the question of who determines what justice and dignity is owed individuals.

Such profound issues will be explored well beyond the classroom by engaging directly with key health care stakeholders -- from policy makers and health care providers to legislators, advocates, and business leaders. Student projects and field work will allow class participants to put policy into practice for themselves.

Together, we will explore the pressing question – What comes next for American health care? You will gain the experience, confidence, and connections to promote further changes in our health care system and become future leaders in health care policy and practice!

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Ideal for

Designed for students with career interests in public policy, medicine and health care, law, ethics, business, economics, and social research, and for any student curious to understand how the American health care system works in practice.


LGLS 114aj - American Health Care: Law and Policy
Description: Five years after the historic passage of the ACA, the United States and our health care system is at a cross roads. While the ACA seems to have weathered most of the significant implementation challenges, even its most ardent supporters acknowledge that the law provides only a partial fix for our nation’s health care system. While access should improve appreciably, particularly for those who are currently uninsured, many will still remain without access to needed care. Moreover, among advanced nations our costs are the highest by far and the quality of our care is no better than that found in these less costly nations. We will explore the ACA, the events leading up to its passage, the policies the law was designed to further, and its impacts so far.

LGLS 131bj - Patient Autonomy: Law, Medicine, and Ethics
Description: At the heart of our evolving health care system are the doctor and the patient. Related to the doctor-patient relationship are often complex issues related to patient autonomy, life and death treatment decisions, and the cost of and access to care. They implicate questions of justice and the just distribution of care, a key goal of health care reform. We will explore ethical, legal, and social issues (including end-of-life-decision making, physician assisted suicide, procreative liberty, cloning, and genetic therapies) from the micro level of patient care at the patient’s bedside to the macro issues of the health care system in which patient care is delivered and financed.

LGLS 98bj - Independent Research
Description: Students will explore an array of complex issues in depth during the seminars as well as in the “real world” as they attend public meetings or hearings and actively dialog with stakeholders. We will examine the day-to-day issues faced by stakeholders in the midst of reform efforts. While connecting theory and practice, students will take initiative and actively engage in structured assignments.


Links to course syllabi appear below:

Health, Law and Justice Syllabus

Please note that course syllabi are subject to change at the discretion of the instructor.