Fall 2004

SOCS 646 (AMST)
Bioterrorism, Public Health Emergencies, and the Law

Schaller,Barry

09/13/2004 - 12/18/2004
Tuesday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Judd Hall 214

This course examines issues raised by bioterrorism and public health emergencies in the context of American culture, bioethical principles, public policy, and law. In particular, we will consider how bioterrorism and public health emergencies challenge traditional political, legal, and ethical principles centering on individual autonomy and civil liberties. The course is designed to provoke thought and discussion--legal and ethical--concerning pressing public policy issues involving several major public health problems facing the United States.

With the remarkable success of public health campaigns in the mid-20th century, the United States--in the 1960s--began to lose interest in public health, as if vaccines and antibiotics eradicated communicable diseases altogether. The nation's resources were shifted to dealing with chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. At the same time, bioethics and health law began to emerge. Both fields were based on the concept of individual autonomy. By the 1980s, American legal discourse and training on public health had become dominated by an individual-centered jurisprudence that subordinated the interest of the public to the interest of the individual. As a result, public understanding of the traditional role of public health law was diminished. Public health infrastructures, including reporting requirements, were allowed to weaken. Recently, with the threat of bioterrorism and the emergence of infectious diseases such as SARS, ebola, West Nile virus, and deadly strains of influenza, states and the federal government are compelled to reassess the public health infrastructure. After tracing the historical and legal background of the public health system, bioterrorism, and public health emergencies, we will consider how contemporary issues challenge ethical principles as well as current law and public policy formulations.

The course, which will proceed in a seminar discussion format, involves critical examination of issues in their legal, ethical, cultural, economic, political, and religious context. The impact of events and developments occurring in the diverse political systems worldwide will be considered. Readings will include classic expressions of ethical standards, legal cases, and statutes, as well as timely books and articles dealing with recent challenges to the public health system. An important goal of the seminar is to encourage and facilitate students to formulate a method of analyzing and evaluating public health problems from legal and ethical standpoints.

Course texts may include Ken Alibek, BIOHAZARD: THE CHILLING TRUE STORY OF THE LARGEST COVERT BIOLOGICAL WEAPONS PROGRAM IN THE WORLD; Rodney Barker, AND THE WATERS TURNED TO BLOOD; Lawrence Gostin, PUBLIC HEALTH LAW: POWER, DUTY, RESTRAINT; Sheila Jasanoff, SCIENCE AT THE BAR: LAW, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY IN AMERICA; Jonathan Moreno, IN THE WAKE OF TERROR: MEDICINE AND MORALITY IN A TIME OF CRISIS; Randy Shilts, AND THE BAND PLAYED ON; and Eileen Welsome, THE PLUTONIUM FILES: AMERICA'S SECRET MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS IN THE COLD WAR.

In preparation for the first class meeting, please have read the following: Lawrence Gostin, PUBLIC HEALTH LAW AND ETHICS, A READER (Preface and Chapter One) and Laurie Garrett, BETRAYAL OF TRUST: THE COLLAPSE OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH (pp. 1-49)

A syllabus for this course is available at:
http://www.wesleyan.edu/masters/courses/Fall_2004/Fall_2004_syllabi/syb_socs646.html


Barry Schaller (B.A. Yale College; J.D. Yale Law School) is justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, retired, who currently sits on the Connecticut Appellate Court. Barry is author of A Vision of American Law: Judging Law, Literature, and the Stories We Tell (1997, and Understanding Bioethics and the Law: The Promises and Perils of the Brave New World of Biotechnology (2007). Barry received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Quinnipiac Law School in 2008, and currently serves as Chair of the Connecticut Committee on Judicial Ethics.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Laurie Garrett, BETRAYAL OF TRUST: THE COLLAPSE OF GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH (Hypersion), Paperback

Lawrence Gostin, PUBLIC HEALTH LAW AND ETHICS, A READER (University of California Press), Paperback

Jonathan Moreno, ed., IN THE WAKE OF TERROR (MIT Press) Paperback

READING MATERIALS AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323

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