Contemporary Civilization (or as I like to call it “From Rousseau to Foucault”)

  • Primary instructor, Spring 2018, Columbia University
  • Columbia’s Core Curriculum program

Founded in 1919 as a course on War and Peace Issues, the central purpose of Contemporary Civilization is to introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities – political, social, moral, and religious – that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities; the course is intended to prepare students to become active and informed citizens. While readings in this one-year course change from time to time, the factors that lead to adoption of a text always include historical influence, the presentation of ideas of enduring importance, and the demonstrated ability of a text to provoke productive discussion.

From Colonial to Global Health 

  • Primary instructor, Fall 2017, Columbia University
  • Designed the syllabus
  • Added by the Dean to the “Global Core Curriculum”
  • Overall assessment of the course: 4.92/5 (Median)

Two decades or so after decolonization (1945-1960), a small but growing group of historians directed their attention to disease and health care in colonial settings. The undergraduate seminar examines this literature as well as readings from a range of disciplines—history, anthropology, medicine, and public health—to make sense of the ways in which indigenous populations interacted with colonial medical practices and various medical actors (hygienists, military personnel, missionaries, medical doctors, etc.) and how in turn these biocolonial and bioimperial projects were deployed, to what end, and with what consequences. The seminar explores issues related to race, religion, modernity, subjectivity, imperial ambitions, and agency (local and foreign) through the lens of public health policies, epidemics, psychiatry, medical schools, diseases, and hospitals. The seminar starts with the colonial genealogy of the “global heath” paradigm, and ends with recent histories of diseases, health care infrastructures, behaviors, and practices as they now play out in post-colonial settings.

Sociology of Science

  • Teaching Fellow for Professor Steven Shapin, Spring 2013, Harvard University
  • Awarded: Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

This course introduces students to a range of sociological approaches to thinking about science, its historical development, its relations to society and other forms of culture, the conditions of its credibility, authority, and transmission. It distinguishes between a sociology of the scientific community and a sociology of scientific knowledge and it inquires into sources of resistance to the very idea of the latter.

Medical Ethics and History

  • Teaching Fellow for Professor David Jones, Fall 2012, Harvard University
  • Assisted in the design of the syllabus
  • Awarded: Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

The course explores how historical analysis can improve our understanding of medical   ethics. Some debates, like those about abortion, have endured for centuries. Others have arisen recently in response to the new technological capacities of medical science. Patients now feel compelled to defend their “right to die,” an idea that would have been inconceivable before the development of life support technologies in the 1960s. The different trajectories allow different kinds of analysis. For enduring debates, it is important to understand why values and principles have changed over time. For new debates, it is important to understand why the dilemma emerged and how medicine and society have responded. Historical analysis also reveals that the persuasiveness of different philosophical arguments has varied over time and with different topics. While
the logic of utilitarianism has long guided the allocation of organs for transplantation or justified coercive measures during epidemics, cost-effectiveness analysis remains controversial in health policy today.

Madness and Medicine: Themes on the History of Psychiatry

  • Teaching Fellow for Professor Anne Harrington, Fall 2011, Harvard University
  • Awarded: Harvard University Certificate of Distinction in Teaching

Psychiatry is one of the most intellectually and socially complex and fraught fields of medicine today, and history offers one powerful strategy for better understanding why. Topics covered in this course include the invention of the mental asylum, early efforts to understand mental disorders as disorders of the brain or biochemistry, the rise of psychoanalysis, psychiatry and war, the rise of psychopharmacology, the making of the DSM, anti-psychiatry, and more.