Although the development of the germ theory of disease in the latter half of the nineteenth century marks a major revolution in medical science, comparable to the discoveries of Galileo in astronomy or Darwin in biology, it cannot be reduced to the heroic efforts of a single researcher or group of researchers. Rather, a number of conceptual, technological and institutional preconditions made the germ theory possible. Among these, contagionism, microscopy and hospital medicine all played a major role. The germ theory of disease facilitated a wide range of scientific advances, including the isolation of pathogens, the creation of vaccines and the introduction of antiseptics in surgery.
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.