Course Offerings

BETH 315C/415C: Health and Health Care: A Comparative Perspective: Costa Rica and the United States. Course and Community Service in Costa Rica: December 27, 2014-January 4, 2015: Bahia Ballena; January 4-10, 2015: San Jose. Approved for Global and Cultural Diversity Credit, College of Arts and Sciences; Approved for Humanities Credit, School of Engineering

International Bioethics Education Program

Instructors: Nicole Deming, J.D., M.A. (Department of Bioethics) & Kurt Rhoads, Ph.D., P.E. (Department of Civil Engineering)

This 3-credit course gives students the unique opportunity to investigate health care and environmental engineering challenges in Costa Rica. Costa Rica has one of the most comprehensive health care and environmental management systems in the Western hemisphere. Despite a per capita GDP of only $10,000 per person, their citizens enjoy a longer life expectancy than those in the United States. Costa Rica is also a leader in the preservation of rain forests and the development of drinking water infrastructure. However, most Costa Ricans do not have access to sanitation services.

Students will gain firsthand experience of Costa Rican health care through field experiences at a national hospital in the capital city, San Jose; a peripheral treatment clinic in a smaller town; and observation of the work of an integrated basic health care team in a native reserve. In addition, students will participate in a water/wastewater project for a community. Students will collect water quality data, choose a design, and contribute to building a solution to an existing water problem with an emphasis on sustainability.

Students will discuss the practical and ethical dilemmas that health and environmental practitioners face in Costa Rica. Specific topics include: health inequalities within and between nations; differing environmental standards; the costs of protecting the environment; the ethics of transplantation, medical research, and end-of-life care; and health care in rural environments and with indigenous populations.

This course is open to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students from any discipline. Prior to the trip, students attend two Saturday classes: the first at Cuyahoga Valley National Park and the second on the CWRU campus. Following the trip, students meet with instructors for an additional class for group presentations, and will be expected to complete an original research essay.

The course will be integrated with community service experiences.


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