Majors

At Duke Kunshan University, each major consists of an interdisciplinary set of courses that integrate different forms of knowledge and a distinct set of disciplinary courses that provide expertise in specific areas.

Global Health/Public Policy
The Global Health/Public Policy major introduces students to an area of study that places a priority on improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide. From the natural sciences, students study the physical components of global health, such as biological bases of disease and the underlying factors in the physical world that incubate and spread disease. From the social sciences, classes focus on the social, political, economic and cultural elements that shape health, such as the study of cultural practices around sickness and healing, and the political factors that may influence international response to epidemics. The Public Policy track in Global Health provides specific additional training in broad policy skills and methods.

Required Courses

Divisional Foundation Courses

Mathematical Foundations 1

The fundamental concepts and tools of calculus, probability, and linear algebra are essential to modern sciences, from the theories of physics and chemistry that have long been tightly coupled to mathematical ideas, to the collection and analysis of data on complex biological systems. Given the emerging technologies for collecting and sharing large data sets, some familiarity with computational and statistical methods is now also essential for modeling biological and physical systems and interpreting experimental results. MF1 is an introduction to differential and integral calculus that focuses on the concepts necessary for understanding the meaning of differential equations and their solutions. It includes an introduction to a software package for numerical solution of ordinary differential equations.

Integrated Science 1

Integrated Science 1 examines the fundamental concept of energy and its relevance for understanding the behavior of physical, chemical, and biomolecular systems. The emphasis on energy reflects its central role in physics and technological devices, its importance in determining chemical structures, and its relevance to the function and evolutionary fitness of biological systems. Topics include thermodynamics, mechanical systems, momentum conservation, chemical bonds and reactions, and nuclear energy.

Foundational Questions in Social Science

This course introduces students to some of the foundational questions about human interaction and the theories that drive this quest, including: what are drivers of human prosperity?; what are the causes of war and the determinants of the peace?; why do some in society have so much, while others have so little?; how do humans govern themselves?; what role does religion play in people’s lives and decisions? how does family structure have an impact on people’s lives; what is the impact of human development on the environment? Students will read foundational texts as applied to contemporary research and current events to help them find their intellectual communities as well as potential areas of focus for their own study plans.

Introduction to Research Methods

This course provides students with an understanding of research designs and research methods used in the social sciences. Students will learn about the scientific method, research methods and design, measurement, and ethical issues. Topics include quantitative and qualitative approaches, as well as mixed methods.

Interdisciplinary Courses

Introduction to Global Health

This course introduces students to the essential features of global health as an area of study, research, and practice. One component introduces students to the historical roots of global health in colonial and tropical medicine and international health, and to the emergence of global health from public health. Students will learn how to distinguish the former from the latter. The course introduces core concepts, such as health disparity, social determinants of health, incidence versus prevalence, mortality versus morbidity, infectious versus non-communicable disease, and primary versus tertiary healthcare. Another component focuses on the global burden of disease, the metrics used to measure this burden, and the way in which infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, accidents and injuries, and the health of mothers and children interact to create complex and shifting burdens in countries around the world. Students will learn about the institutional actors who play a significant role in confronting global health challenges—the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the World Bank, the Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, and countless non-governmental organizations—and about solutions that have both worked and failed. The course will also survey major global health policy efforts, from Primary Health Care to the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals, and offer students a preview into the most pressing challenges facing global health in the coming decades.

Global Health Ethics

This course introduces students to ethical theories and frameworks in the context of historical and current issues in global health. As part of this context students learn about best practices and standards of care in clinical settings, so that they can make cross-cultural and transnational comparisons and use these to set up difficult ethical questions about health disparities. The course emphasizes self-reflection, cultural sensitivity, and flexibility in thinking about ethical issues in a globalized world. In the context of historical and current issues, students analyze and critique the choices of multinational, national, and local policymakers; clinicians; and researchers, with an eye to the impact these choices have on individuals, families, and communities. Students also explore ethical issues of conducting research on or working with marginalized/stigmatized populations, using case studies and the theoretical frameworks introduced in the course. Students are encouraged to think creatively about the relationship between ethics and health and to explore solutions to what appear to be ethical dilemmas in a variety of contexts. Topics include: human rights and development; the ethics of aid; differential standards of care; protection of human subjects; access to essential medicines; genetic information and confidentiality; pharmaceutical development; health information technology; placebo controlled trials; best outcomes vs. distributive justice.

Global Health Research Methods

This course introduces research methods in global health. Global health is a multi-disciplinary field, so the course considers approaches common to the behavioral and social sciences, public health, and medicine. Primary interest is the study of causal inference. Global health researchers, practitioners, and donors need to know what programs and interventions “work” and why. To answer questions of impact, the course explores randomized controlled trials, a mainstay of medical research, and spends significant time helping students understand the rationale, process, and limitations of field experiments. Randomization is not always possible or advisable, however, and researchers must build a causal argument using non-experimental methods. The course reviews several approaches, considers relevant threats to causal inference, and discusses how to improve non-experimental research designs. The course also covers research basics, such as developing and testing theory, asking good questions, understanding variability, designing good measurement, and selecting research participants. The latter part of the course turns to more specialized topics in global health research, such as cost effectiveness, community based participatory research, research on humanitarian aid, and monitoring and evaluation. Students will learn how to evaluate published and unpublished research and how to design a global health research project.

Social Determinants of Health

This course introduces students to the major social factors that affect public health at both the global and national level. Globally, students study a wide range of topics from the health impact of global income inequality, gender, and access to education, to the role of specific work place policies, among other topics. Lectures introduce a social variable (such as race or gender), discuss its theoretical underpinnings, and then link it to the current empirical evidence to health outcomes. Students learn to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the empirical evidence. The course considers the implications for intervention strategies and policy, with a focus on applicability to lower and middle-income country settings. Students also study how social factors influence health and well being, with a particular focus on national context in specific countries. Topics could include obesity, aging, socioeconomic disadvantage, access to health insurance, public health systems, the role of the media, and racial/ethnic and gender inequalities. The course provides descriptive assessments of health inequalities and analytic examinations of the mechanisms through which social factors affect health.

Disciplinary Courses

Introduction to Policy Analysis

Basic concepts of analytical thinking including quantitative methods for assessing the probabilities of outcomes and appraising policy alternatives. Illustrated by problems faced by busy decision makers in government, business, law, medicine.

Political Analysis for Public Policy

Analysis of the political and organizational processes which influence the formulation and implementation of public policy. Alternative models.

Introduction to Statistical Methods

This course covers techniques for organizing data, computing, and interpreting measures of central tendency, variability, and association. Estimation, confidence intervals, tests of hypotheses, t-tests, correlation, and regression. Possible topics: analysis of variance and chi-square tests, computer statistical packages.

Policy Choice as Value Conflict

Public policy should be informed by evidence and facts, but it cannot be determined by them. People disagree about public policy not only because they disagree about empirical matters but also because they hold different understandings of familiar political concepts and they assign different weightings to competing political values. This course aims both to illustrate these general propositions and, more importantly, to introduce the tools and techniques with which one can construct and critique reasoned arguments about the political concepts and values that underpin policy choice. The course will be divided into four sections, each of which focuses on a set of contemporary policy disputes whose resolution depends upon clarifying and justifying our understanding of an underlying political concept and its associated values. The four concepts whose policy implications we shall explore are: democracy, justice, liberty, and rights. Readings are mostly works of contemporary political philosophy.

* Choose one course from the following two courses:

Microeconomic Policy Tools

Development and application of analytical economic tools in a policy environment. Emphasis on application of economic methods in a variety of policy settings and developing testable hypotheses that might be used to guide economic policy. Analytical topics include willingness to pay, derived demand, multi-market interactions, comparative advantage, investment analysis, and decision making under uncertainty. Applications include tax analysis, including incidence, effective protection, shadow pricing, introduction to government expenditures, labor market policy, examples of regulation and pricing externalities.

Intermediate Microeconomics I

Introduction of the concepts of preferences and technologies. Intermediate development of the theory of demand, supply and competitive equilibrium from individual preferences and technologies. Income and substitution effects, uncompensated demand and marginal willingness to pay. Conditions under which competitive markets result in efficient outcomes. Conditions under which government policy has the potential to increase efficiency. Tension between economic efficiency and different notions of equity.

Recommended Electives for the Major

Courses listed below are recommended electives for the major. Students can also select other courses in different divisions as electives.

Introduction to the United States Health Care System

Overview of the key health policy issues in the United States. Topics include: (1) sources of morbidity and mortality; (2) access to health care; (3) financing of health care including an overview of how health insurance works, Medicare and Medicaid and why there are uninsured persons and to what effect; (4) quality of health care; (5) the role of innovation in both treating disease and influencing costs; (6) mental health, including why drug and alcohol treatment is generally considered to be a mental health service; (7) the role of non-profit versus for-profit ownership of health care facilities and to what effect; (8) long term care; and (9) the impact of social phenomenon such as income inequality, social class and culture on health care.

War and Public Health in Africa

An inquiry into the nature of contemporary war in sub-Saharan Africa and its human cost. Uses public health as a parameter to assess the impact of organized collective violence on people’s lives. Link between war and public health established and measured with respect to civilian deaths, gender based violence, physical and psychological trauma, mental disorders, malnutrition and famine, and the spread of epidemic diseases, inter alia HIV/AIDS. Special attention is given to rape as “a weapon of war”, to the trafficking of human beings in war zones, the child soldier phenomenon, and to death counts as a vector of humanitarian or political advocacy.

International Development and Poverty

What factors account for the persistence of poverty in some countries? Is it always going to be the same way – i.e., will poor people remain poor within the foreseeable future – or can something be done to reduce poverty (or at least alleviate its most painful consequences)? Academics and policymakers have come up with alternative formulations as they have attempted to deal with poverty over the last 50 years. This class provides students with an overview of social and economic development in developing countries since the early 1950s. What problems do residents of developing countries face, what kinds of solutions have been advanced to deal with these problems, how have different solutions fared in practice, and what needs to be done now and in future? The course traces how development practice has evolved in the theoretical literature, and students use this knowledge to investigate what needs to be done now and in future.

Global Comparative Health Care Systems

This course introduces students to the components of health systems (populations, financing, payment, workforce, service delivery, information, medicines and technologies, governance) as they appear in various health system frameworks, and to the ways in which these components and their combinations vary from country to country around the world. The course focuses on comparisons across countries at the same economic level (high-, middle-, and low-income), as well as on comparisons across levels. The course also considers how to assess health system performance, with attention to how measures of performance are invariably tied to often implicit and varying conceptions of health from country to country and culture to culture. Students will learn about the most significant challenges facing health systems within each economic level and about successes and failures in meeting these challenges with health system reforms. The latter part of the course introduces students to the role of politics and policy in strengthening health systems. Throughout the course, students learn not only about health systems but also about what systems (physical, biological, social) are, how they function, and about how systems thinking can be applied fruitfully to the study of health systems.

Global Health Governance

Health issues are rarely isolated. They cross borders and travel through human and non-human channels around the globe. Global health governance takes place through both multilateral discussions between nations as well as through a variety of organizations that have been created to address the expected and unexpected consequences of global health issues. This course introduces students to the primary governmental, intergovernmental, private, and civil society actors in global health, offering both a history of how and when these actors came to be, and an account of their shifting interrelationships in the face of evolving global health crises. Students learn about the post-World War II development of the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the United Nations and its agencies on one hand, and about the parallel development of civil society organizations like OXFAM, CARE, and Catholic Relief Services on the other. The course then explores the development of governmental organizations like the CDC and USAID in the United States and an DFID in the United Kingdom, and, in the 1990s and 2000s, the addition of large private actors like the Gates Foundation and new models of governance like the Global Fund and UNAIDS. The course examines the tensions, struggles, challenges, and successes of these international organizations and their relationships and processes, through case studies of how these organizations have interacted, individually and collectively, with various countries and communities in which global health crises have emerged. In this way, the course uses global health governance as a lens through which to view many of the driving issues in global health: HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and a rising tide of new infectious diseases; the alarming global spread of diabetes, obesity, and cancer; the persistence of malnutrition and the deaths of children under five; violence, war, and mental health; and the continuing challenges of reproductive and maternal health. The solutions to all of these pressing global health issues, and many others as well, will be a product of global health governance.

Media and Health Communication

This course examines health communication theory, research, and practice. Major topics include the impact of media on health and behavior; use of mass, new, and social media strategies for health promotion, patient-provider communication; and the role of culture in health communication campaign design. Students should have basic understanding of social science research methods. Students will develop the skills necessary to use media strategically to advance public health policies and social change. The course covers the design, implementation and evaluation of media campaigns to promote public health goals, and examines theories and research on media influences with respect to its potential harmful effects on wellbeing. Students will design a digital media-based health communication campaign.

Career Path

This major prepares graduates to pursue positions with global health organizations including non-governmental organizations, government agencies, consulting companies, research institutions, and universities. Graduates may also elect to pursue graduate study in global health and public policy.