The following courses comprise a sample of courses related to healthcare policy taught at HKS or by HKS faculty for Academic year 2016-17. To search a full list of HKS classes, see the HKS Course Catalog. Several of these courses are cross-listed with other Harvard schools; for the full list of Harvard courses related to health care policy, see the Harvard Course Catalog.

Spring 2017

At Harvard Kennedy School

Economics of Global Health (SUP-518)
Faculty: Margaret McConnell
This class examines health issues in developing countries from the standpoint of applied economics. Specific topics include: (1) understanding the complex relationship between health, population, and economic growth; (2) understanding key challenges to improving individual and global health (3) recognizing differences between optimal health decisions from an individual, national, and global perspective. We will examine the empirical evidence in support of interventions affecting health including the success and failure of interventions that target infant mortality, diarrhea, worms, AIDS, and malaria as well as smoking and obesity. We will also investigate the role of health insurance as well as different approaches to deliver health care in resource-constrained settings. Prerequisite: At least one course in microeconomics and one course in applied statistics or econometrics.

Political Analysis and Strategy for U.S. Health Policy (SUP-575)
Faculty: Robert Blendon
Health policymaking in the U.S. has a strong political dimension. This course offers analytical insights into understanding U.S. health policymaking and developing political strategies that influence health policy outcomes. The course provides both the theoretical basis and strategic skills for those in future leadership roles to influence the health policy process. Major topics to be covered include analyzing how health policy is shaped by interest groups, media, public opinion, legislative lobbying, elections, coalition building, policy legacies, institutions, and the politics of information. Student-led case studies focus on  marijuana legalization in Colorado, defunding Planned Parenthood,  as well as major movements toward comprehensive national health insurance in the U.S. including the Clinton and Obama health plans and the debate over the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Leaders in political strategy from both the health and political fields will be guest lecturers. Not open to auditors.

U.S. Healthcare Industry and Regulatory Policy (SUP 578M)
Faculty:  Leemore Dafny
The U.S. healthcare sector absorbs 17 percent of GDP, encompassing a diverse set of industries with public, nonprofit, and for-profit buyers and sellers.  Regulators have a substantial opportunity (and obligation) to promote efficiency and competition in these various industries.  This course will introduce participants to the key sectors comprising the healthcare industry (including insurers, pharmaceuticals, and acute and non-acute care providers) from the vantage point of the firms operating within them.  We will discuss the impact of regulation (including public insurance programs) on business strategies and outcomes, with a strong emphasis on competition policy (i.e., antitrust enforcement).  All examples will be U.S.-based.  This course requires a background in microeconomics and statistics and will include discussions of relevant economic research.  Course time will be split between lectures and case discussions/examples.

Doctoral Seminar in Health Economics (SUP-951)
Faculty:  Mark Shepard
Explores frontier work in the field of health economics. Focuses on learning advanced theories and economic models useful for policy analysis, and on helping students develop dissertation and/or research topics. Students enrolled for credit are expected to present original research at the end of the semester.  Permission of the instructor required for nondoctoral students.

Core Course in Health Policy II (SUP-958)
Faculty: Richard FrankAlan Zaslavsky
This seminar is the follow-on seminar to the fall term SUP-957. It is required for doctoral candidates in health policy and is open to others by permission of the instructor. Topics covered will include the financing and organization of health care, medical manpower, medical malpractice, technology assessment, prevention, mental health, long-term care, and quality of care. Prerequisite: SUP-957 or API-101 at the Z level, Econ 2140a, or equivalent. In general, masters students should take SUP-572 and not this course.

Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (SE Lab) for US and Global Health (MLD-837)
Faculty:  Gordon Bloom
Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (SE Lab) for US and Global Health is a Collaboratory workshop, a university incubator where student teams design and develop innovative U.S. and international social change initiatives, ventures and organizations, addressing major challenges in public health and healthcare. SE Lab fuses theoretical and practical approaches. It offers an overview of selected concepts and frameworks of social entrepreneurship while concurrently enabling students to develop team based action projects. SE Lab participants collaborate by brainstorming, developing and iterating ideas, and by designing innovative and feasible solutions and plans for the problem and opportunity chosen. Class sessions combine lectures, case discussion, and small group workshops, as well as the participation (in person or electronically) of domain experts, social entrepreneurs, and guest faculty.

SE Lab is student-centered and projects are student-initiated. Proposed initiatives may be new entities or innovative projects, partnerships, or other arrangements that will have an impact on existing organizations and social outcomes locally or globally, focused on issues of public health and healthcare. Students may apply to the lab with a project or idea or simply be interested in joining a team.

Project development will vary with the skill set and experience of each individual and team, but will include: defining the problem and opportunity; articulating mission and vision; design and development of an innovative and feasible solution and determination of an applicable theory of change and value proposition; market research, industry and stakeholder analysis; creation of an advisory, governance and management structure; determination of strategic partners and assets, funding strategy; development of a basic financial and operating model; development of measurement and evaluation framework. Teams will draft an executive summary and SE business plan for their initiative and will present their projects in the SE Lab, and may also create an optional 2 minute video. As appropriate, participants may also elect to pursue funding, and the implementation of a pilot project.

Some examples of the issue areas that students may elect to address through the SE Lab in US and global health include: affordability, access, quality, pandemics and infectious disease, failing health systems and health care system change, health IT, medical device and technology innovation, clean water, environmental health and sustainability, nutrition and food systems, obesity alleviation, chronic disease management, diagnostics, population health management, poverty and humanitarian crises, gender equity and human rights, privacy, maternal and infant mortality, prevention and safety, drug development and distribution, social and behavioral health and substance abuse, education access, international conflict and violence and other issue areas as determined by the students.

January 2017

At Harvard Kennedy School

International Perspectives on Justice for Children (IGA-344M)
Faculty: Jacqueline BhabhaCecile Aptel
This course seeks to help students resolve some of the crucial challenges that arise when children interact with the legal system as victims, witnesses, or alleged offenders. By studying the many country-specific, formal and informal justice systems that exist to protect, punish, and rehabilitate children, the course will also examine a number of thematic concepts related to child discrimination, especially on the bases of gender, disability, and sexual orientation. Students will learn to rely on data from justice systems, clinical medicine, social science, and public health to inform the evidence base for discussions, and merge these sciences with legal precepts and human rights to advance actions that are in a child's best interest. By exploring case law pertaining to decision-making within and outside the formal justice system, this course will lay a foundation for further study in the discipline, and also bolster the repertoire of professionals using the law in advocacy work. 

Fall 2016

At Harvard Kennedy School

Introduction to U.S. Health (SUP-500)
Faculty:  Sheila BurkeBenjamin Cook
The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of the U.S. health care system, its components, and the policy challenges created by the organization of the system. We will give attention to the status and implementation of the 2010 reform legislation and the ongoing budget debate in the U.S. Congress related to health care. We will focus on the major health policy institutions and important issues that cut across institutions, including private insurers and the federal/state financing programs (Medicare and Medicaid/SCHIP). In addition focus will be given to the quality of care, structure of the delivery system, the drivers of cost growth, and longterm care. The course will be a combination of lectures and discussions. The instructors will introduce topics and guide discussions. Students are expected to actively participate in the discussion. Literature from economics, politics, medical sociology, and ethics will be incorporated into discussions and written exercises. No disciplinary background is assumed, nor is any special familiarity with the field of health care required.

The Economics of Health Care Policy  (SUP-572)
Faculty: Joseph Newhouse
Policy issues related to the following topics are considered in the course: the demand for medical care services, especially as a function of insurance; the demand for insurance and issues of selection; reimbursement policies of Medicare and other payers toward health plans, hospitals, and physicians; effects of health maintenance organizations and managed care; and malpractice and tort reform. The focus is mainly on the U.S., but there is some account of similar issues elsewhere. The perspective will generally be that of federal policy, although state and local perspectives will receive some attention. The course will take account of the health reform bill of 2010 and covers some methods issues. Prerequisite: API-101, API-201, and API-202 or equivalent. API-202 may be taken concurrently.

Core Course in Health Policy ISUP-957
Faculty: Joseph NewhouseRichard FrankAlan Zaslavsky
This seminar is required for doctoral candidates in health policy and is open to others by permission of the instructor. Topics covered will include the financing and organization of health care, medical manpower, medical malpractice, technology assessment, prevention, mental health, long-term care, and quality of care. Prerequisite: API-101 at the Z level, Econ 2140, or equivalent. This course is required for SUP-958. In general, masters students should take SUP-572 and not this course. Permission of instructor required.

Inequality and Social Policy (SUP-205)
Faculty: Devah Pager
This course examines inequality and poverty in the U.S.  The goals of the course are threefold: first, it will provide an in-depth examination of the nature and extent of inequality in the US, focusing on the 20th century and the dramatic rise in income inequality in recent decades.  Second, it will review different theories and the supporting empirical findings on the causes and consequences of inequality.  Third, it will develop analytical frameworks for evaluating and designing policy interventions targeted towards alleviating social inequality, with an emphasis on issues related to health care, education, discrimination, and the criminal justice system.

At Harvard Faculty of Arts & Sciences

US Health Care Policy (US-World 11)
Faculty: Amitabh Chandra
This course provides an overview of the U.S. health care system in historical and international perspective, and engages students in critically analyzing health policy issues. The course is focused around three complex and interdependent policy challenges that every health system must address: ensuring access to health care, paying for new innovations, and improving quality. Using primarily an economic lens, students will grapple with the complexity of the issues, learn to analyze policy arguments, evaluate evidence, identify tradeoffs, and recognize the limits of economic analysis - critical skills for engaging constructively as informed citizens in a wide range of policy debates.

At Harvard Business School

Transforming Health Care Delivery (HBS-2195)
Faculty: Robert Huckman (HBS) and Amitabh Chandra
At the root of the transformation occurring in the health care industry—both in the United States and internationally—is the fundamental challenge of improving clinical outcomes while controlling costs. Addressing this challenge will require dramatic improvements in the process by which care is delivered to patients. This will involve changing the organization of delivery, the measurement of outcomes, and the way in which providers are paid. Transforming Health Care Delivery (THCD) aims to equip students with the tools required to design and implement these improvements.  THCD is appropriate for students interested in understanding and addressing the challenges facing health care delivery. These students may have career interests in organizations that provide health care or in firms that partner with, supply, consult to, or invest in such organizations.