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University of Rochester Global Health Discussion Paper

Purpose: This paper will provide you an opportunity to bring together concepts mastered over the semester in a persuasive essay. The purpose is to provide you the thinking space to bring these core concepts into your own worldview, including bringing these lessons down to advice for aspiring global health workers.

Skills: Writing persuasively, synthesis and selection, critical thinking, argumentation using evidence

Knowledge: This assignment will also help you to become familiar with core approaches in social science to global health:

  • Meta-level awareness of institutional, economic, and cultural norms in global health
  • Case analysis

A successful paper will include the following:

  • Direct quotations from course readings
  • Extensive use of examples from the cases in the course texts and films
  • A unique argument/thesis and a clear point of view or voice
  • Direct references to core course concepts like syndemics, biosociality, social determinants of health, structural violence, etc. Terms will be defined.
  • Will address health inequities in some way
  • Use the first person
  • Use headings and subheadings in ways that enhance the argument by making the organizational logic clear
  • Include a Title: subtitle that id descriptive and persuasive 
  • 12 point point
  • Double spaced
  • 4-5 pages MAX

Rubric posted here.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Explain key concepts, methods, and the relevance of political-economic and sociocultural frameworks of analysis in health care.
  • Describe the cultural, environmental, economic, and political factors that impact the health of people.
  • Develop a critical and historical perspective on global health.
  • Analyze the roots of and mechanisms for the perpetuation of social inequalities

Task: Write a 4-5 page paper that develops an argument that responds to the following questions.

Part I: 3-4 pages

  1. Why are big ideas persuasive? Why does global health rely on big ideas? What are the dangers of presuming that one big idea can “fix” any given global health problem? What power dynamics are embedded in these assumptions?
  2. What are some alternatives to big ideas? From your course reading and viewing this term, what have you seen that works? Why do you think these approaches are effective? What are some principles of global health that articulate those successes?

For these questions you should:

  • Come up with 2-3 generalizable themes that have emerged over the term 
  • Organize these themes into a coherent overarching idea. This will become your thesis statement. The thesis explains what you think is the most important point, which is uniquely your argument. Thesis statements in social sciences can explain how things work, unintended consequences, or challenge assumptions.
  • Then find specific examples from 2-3 cases that demonstrate the point you make in your thesis (i.e., use cases as evidence to substantiate your claim). 

Part II: 1 page

3. What principles do you think a person embarking upon a career in global health should understand? What advice would you offer to your peers interested in this kind of career after taking this course?


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