Course Meeting Times

Seminars: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Analytical Frameworks

This course was team-taught by three instructors: Chris Bobel from the University of Massachusetts Boston; Silvia Dominguez from Northeastern University; and Norma Swenson from the Harvard School of Public Health. Each instructor presented an analytical framework to the class, with the hope that the by the end of the semester, students would be able to synthesize these analytic tools in their own work. The three analytical frameworks were, respectively:

Feminism, feminist theory, and inter-sectionality

In this class, we will use a feminist intersectional lens to scrutinize human identity and behavior in the context of the social, cultural, historical, and institutional. This means that we will acknowledge how intertwining identities and experiences both mitigate and multiply lived experience of oppression and privilege. To this end, we will push ourselves to see beyond unitary categories (such as gender or race), and instead engage more nuanced analyses that take into account multiple, and often fluid, social locations (race, class, sexuality, nation and so on) that shape reality including the distribution of power and resources that impact health.

Neoliberalism and inequity

Neo-liberalization was first introduced by the Chicago boys, a group of Chicago trained economists who traveled to Chile during the 1970’s and began to implement neo-liberal ideas under the auspices of the military dictatorship of General Pinochet. Neo-liberal policies were then introduced fully when Reagan was elected in 1980.

There are five tenents of neo-liberalization that have consequences for the increase in inequality that further erodes human rights and promotes further marginalization. These include an increased power given to corporations, accompanied by the progressive decrease in the regulations that safe-guard the environment, civil and human rights; the vilifying of government and public programs accompanied with the proliferation of privatization which further removes responsibility for the safe guard of human and civil rights. Lastly is the progressive commodification of everything so that even natural occurring phenomena is subject to privatization and profit making. Neo-liberal ideologies are now global and affect vulnerable populations worldwide. Under neo-liberalization, individuals are blamed for their lack of market readiness and are rendered surplus. As surpluses increase, populations move causing refugees. Incarceration and the militarization of local police forces act to suppress dissent and to further marginalize populations. In a neo-liberal lens, immigrants are fighting not to be declared surplus and the market reigns supreme.

Gender, health, human rights, and public health

Throughout this course, the underlying assumption will be that health is a human right, based on wide-ranging principles and covenants that are encoded in the aspirations, religions, and laws of many countries, as well as within the constitution of the World Health Organization, part of the United Nations. The right to health is the economic, social, and cultural right to a universal minimum standard of health to which all individuals and peoples are entitled. The right to "the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health" is not confined to the right to health care but embraces a wide range of socio-economic factors that promote conditions in which people can lead a healthy life, and extends to the underlying determinants of health. The rapidly growing field of Health and Human Rights both illustrates these principles and documents some of these actions as well as practical applications of these concepts and the illumination of laws that need to be changed. On the other hand, neo-liberalization doctrine is far-reaching and often incompatible with human rights principles.


Students must apply and be accepted to the Graduate Consortium in Women's Studies.


ACTIVITIES Percentages
In-class participation and engagement 30%
Research paper 30% (25% for essay; 5% for in-class presentation)
In-class student discussion preparation and facilitation 15%
Annotated bibliography 5%
Op-Ed 20% (15% for Op-Ed; 5% for in-class presentation)

See Assignments section for more information.