Reliable records of influenza, dating back to the 1700s, suggest a pattern of one major pandemic every century. Among the pandemics for which there is solid documentary evidence, the outbreak of 1918-1920 is by far the greatest. The so-called Spanish Lady caused somewhere between 25 and 100 million deaths worldwide. It is distinctive both for its high mortality rate, in comparison to other flu pandemics, and for its unusual demographic effect: whereas the flu typically targets the very young and old, the 1918-1920 epidemic struck adults in the prime of life. Without a cure for the disease, public health authorities today are in a position to learn from the successes and failures of the early-twentieth-century response.
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.