Global Health Issues

In this module we will be considering the many issues related to environmental health. We will be looking specifically at issues of global water scarcity, desertification, and sanitation. Students will utilize the theory of Structural Violence to analyze the social, cultural, economic, political and historical issues that underlie global water scarcity. Foucault’s theory of Biopower and Merton’s Theory of the Unintended Consequences of Purposive Social Action are both useful in understanding the significant criticism of Community-led Sanitation programs (CLTS). The work of Yacouba Sawadago, a farmer from Burkina Faso, in the fight against desertification, serves to call into question Western ethnocentric ideas about who is capable of making a significant difference in environmental health problems.

Module Learning Objectives

By the completion of this module, the student should be able to do the following:

  • Analyze the structural issues that have contributed to global water scarcity and describe the major global health impacts of this problem.
  • Describe current local efforts to fight desertification in Africa and reflect on how this changes perceptions about who is responsible for or capable of making a significant difference in issues of environmental health.
  • Describe Community-led Total Sanitation programs (CLTS) and discuss the significant criticism of this model.

Required Learning Activities

Narrated Power Point:

No toilet, no bride


Women in northern India said “no toliet, no bride” and it worked

Deforestation leading to more infectious diseases in humans

Three million people are cooking over open fires with deadly consequences

How solar ovens are changing lives in the Dominican Republic

Fed up with no sewers Pakistan’s slum residents go DIY

Time to acknowledge the dirty truth behind community-led sanitation


Blue Gold: World Water Wars  Click on this link to get to the video (89 min)

Assignment and Grading Rubric

Reaction and Reflection: Environmental Health

Students will complete a written assignment that asks them to engage with the assigned readings, videos, and film, note their immediate reactions to the materials and reflect on their reactions and the ideas presented in the assigned materials. Students should record their reactions and reflections on the Reaction & Reflection worksheet and upload it to the dropbox by the due date.

Reaction and Reflection: Environmental Health, assignment instructions

Environmental Health Reaction & Reflection worksheet

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