Of all the diseases studied in this course, malaria has been responsible for the most human suffering. It has evolved alongside humans, and impacted human biology as well as civilization. In the former case, this impact is evident in genetic diseases like sickle-cell anemia which, while increasing vulnerability to a host of other illnesses, has the advantage of conferring substantial resistance to malaria. In social terms, malaria's debilitating sequelae have resulted in a reciprocal cycle of poverty and infection, low productivity and the desertion of profitable land weakening societies' ability to combat the disease and ultimately reinforcing a division between the global North (where malaria was eradicated following the Second World War) and the South, where the disease persists.
This course consists of an international analysis of the impact of epidemic diseases on western society and culture from the bubonic plague to HIV/AIDS and the recent experience of SARS and swine flu. Leading themes include: infectious disease and its impact on society; the development of public health measures; the role of medical ethics; the genre of plague literature; the social reactions of mass hysteria and violence; the rise of the germ theory of disease; the development of tropical medicine; a comparison of the social, cultural, and historical impact of major infectious diseases; and the issue of emerging and re-emerging diseases.
As one of the world's great universities, Yale traces its roots back to the early 1640s when colonial clergyman sought to establish a school in order to continue the tradition of European education within the Americas. Yale has now grown to educate over 11,000 students from over 100 countries on a 310-acre campus in New Haven, Connecticut. Within the school's 260 buildings are over 2,000 undergraduate programs in 65 departments taught by a distinguished faculty. As Academic Earth's first partner school, Yale has been a leader within the space of OpenCourseWare by consistently delivering on its esteemed mission to expand access to educational materials for all who wish to learn.