Public Lives, Private Rights

Moderators: John and Elizabeth Armstrong
Role of participants: Prepare a 30-40 minute presentation and lead a discussion.
Number of participants (including the moderator): 18
Time: Tuesdays, 9:30 am–11:30 am
Place: Smith College, Dewey Hall, Common Room, Northampton
Parking: You will be issued a Smith campus parking permit

The recent outbreak of measles in the U.S. and the treatment of U.S. citizens exposed elsewhere to the Ebola virus and treated in the U.S. illustrate the problems of ensuring public health and safety while recognizing individuals’ guaranteed rights of self-determination and personal choice.   Enforcement of quarantines and immunization requires a careful balance of measures known to protect public welfare and depends in turn on sophisticated scientific understanding of the causes and control of disease and an informed citizenry.

This seminar will start with an historical view of public health practices, primarily in the U.S.  We will cover the seminal contributions made by civil engineering projects involving clean water, safe sewerage, and clean air.   And then we will look at the constitutional basis for public health law and discuss significant events in our country’s history with an ever-expanding network of public health programs.    Measures to deal with epidemics such as smallpox, typhoid fever, polio, flu and AIDS will be covered, including discussion of key historical figures such as Koch, Jenner, Lady Mary Montague, Salk and others. Programs such as fluoridation, comprehensive childhood vaccination, highway safety measures, smoking cessation, and others will be considered over the course of the ten weeks.

Format: Seminar

Resources: The moderators will provide a list of resources.

The Moderators: The Armstrongs have moderated many seminars, some together, some separately.  The moderators have led seminars in the past on subjects in science, technology and engineering.

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