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Course Information

Instructor Info:Pamela Stone
Office Extension x6203
Term: 2014S
Meeting Info: Monday Wednesday
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 3-OSTE
10:30 AM - 11:50 AM Cole Science Center 3-OSTE

This course examines the biological, cultural, and political frameworks that put females at risk for high rates of morbidity and mortality. Using the (8) Millennial Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations and its partners to frame our conversations, we will work to understand the UNs targeted programs. We will unpack the complex global issues that reproductive aged women face, and investigate how obstetric death rates can be used as a litmus test to understanding the underlying health contexts, disparities, and political/cultural systems that impact wellness. We will juxtapose the roles of biological health, specifically pregnancy and birth, with cultural practices, to consider other factors that adversely impact women's health including: endemic and epidemic diseases, domestic violence, and structural violence. Through this course we will aim to understand the larger contexts and complexities of improving and supporting reproductive aged women's health and wellness as we near the MDGs target date of 2015.

This is a course in the Culture, Brain, and Development Program (CBD).

This course fulfills the distributions requirement for PBS and PCSJ

Course Objectives:

What to Expect

Each student must carry out an original research project that will be generated through working both in a group and individually. Groups will focus on a developing nation to explore questions of health, culture, and policy in the context of maternal morbidity and mortality to learn what is and what is not working in the push to improve maternal health statistics – as presented (and beyond) the MDGs. Students will need to find time outside of the course time to work on their research projects individually and/or in groups. Each research group will be expected to teach the rest of the class about their research area – the questions they asked – and what they discovered. Each group will have two thirds of a class period to share with and teach the larger class about their research area. Followed by a discussion facilitated by the professor. In addition to the group work and course presentation each student will be expected to hand in a short final paper on the research they conducted as part of the research group.


Evaluation Criteria:

Writing Assignments: There will be a number of reports, essays, and response papers due throughout the semester.  These must be turned in when due.  

Attendance: Students must attend all classes and participate in all activities and exercises.

Reading Assignments: Students must complete all of the required reading prior to class and be prepared to discuss the material. 

Independent Project/Group Project: The research in this class will be part independent and part group oriented. Each student is expected to work as part of a group and is to complete a final research paper (which is due at the end of the semester) that is informed by the work in the group and through the student’s own independent research.  Students are expected to follow all deadlines for turning in outlines, background literature, an abstract, and drafts of the research paper. The approach to the research in this class is to collect and analyze information that is interdisciplinary, and should approach the problem (question) from a number of perspectives. The culmination of the topic area is the group teaching the class about what they have learned. Each group will have 2/3s of a class session to share their work, and to discuss what they did or did not find.  


Much of the course reading will be in .pdf form and found on moodle. In some cases they may be handed out in class.

(All reading due dates are noted in the syllabus (in print and on moodle) on the day they are due).


[This is an electronic resource – it can be accessed through the library at your home institution.]

Hussein, J., Blanc, A. K., Donnay, F., McCaw-Binns, A., & Webber, R. (2012). An introduction to maternal and perinatal health. Maternal and Perinatal Health in Developing Countries, 1. 

Additional Info:


You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in NSNS that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.