40 Essential Open Courseware Classes to Learn About Healthcare Reform

by The Health Sensei on November 16, 2009

How vested are you in the current healthcare debate? The more involved you become – either for or against government involvement in healthcare – the more you may need to know about terminology, immunology, research, disease management and current trends toward a global health care system. Overarching topics include preventative measures, the environment and health, issues about how policies are developed and disease management.

The following list of forty essential open courseware classes can teach you more about all those issues and more in topics that cover current and historic health care reform. The courses were chosen among colleges and universities, they are free of charge (although you cannot earn credits with these courses) and they are listed in categories for your convenience with the name of the college listed after each link description. Each course is listed alphabetically within those categories to show that we do not value one course over another.


  1. Disease and Society in America: This course examines the growing importance of medicine in culture, economics and politics with an historical approach to examine changing patterns of disease, mortality and more [MIT].
  2. Epidemiology and Biostatistics: This is a basic course that helps readers understand and critique medical literature [Tufts].
  3. Epidemiology of Infectious Diseases: Learn the basic methods of infectioius disease epidemiology with lessons and case studies [Johns Hopkins].
  4. Epidemiological Thinking For Non-Specialists: Learn more about how to use data to reconstruct possible pathways of development of behaviors and diseases [UMass Boston].
  5. Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease: How can individuals predict new major threats to human health, when major ecosystems are constantly changing from acid deposition to industrial emissions [Columbia]?
  6. Public Hygiene and Epidemiology: Human pathology related to water and sanitation is dealt with, as well as the relation between health and society and environment [TUDelft].

Immunization and Pharmaceuticals

  1. Evolution of the Immune System: This course offers information on the evolutionary pathways that have led to development of innate and adaptive immunity [MIT].
  2. Fundamentals of Clinical Trials: Learn more about clinical trials regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) [UCIrvine].
  3. Immunization Hesitancy: A Rising Tide that Challenges the Public Health: Learn about growing societal hesitancy in the use of immunizations and the potentical consequences for disease prevention [UCIrvine].
  4. Problem Solving for Immunization Programs: This material covers immunization basics and surveys literature and common problems using a standard problem-solving approach [Johns Hopkins].
  5. Regulatory Requirements for Pharmaceutical Products: Get a detailed overview of the regulatory requirements for the development and manufacture of pharmaceutical products [UCIrvine].

Preventative Measures

  1. A Love-Hate Relationship: Cholesterol in Health and Disease: Learn about cholesterol’s role in the cell and in the body as a whole [MIT].
  2. Food and Nutrition Policy: The purpose of this course is to familiarize and engage the student in the steps and dynamics of policy making processes that address nutrition problems and issues [Johns Hopkins].
  3. Global Tobacco Control: This course presents the health and economic burden of tobacco use worldwide and highlights practical approaches to tobacco prevention, control, surveillance, and evaluation [Johns Hopkins].
  4. Health and Safety in the Laboratory and Field: Learn more about the concepts of health and safety within a science laboratory or in the field [The Open University].
  5. Health Assessment and Promotion: Learn more about complete health assessment, the nursing process, and its relationship to the prevention and early detection of disease in clients across the life span [UMass Boston].
  6. Health is Everywhere: Unraveling the Mystery of Health: Learn more about the notion of health that pervades both public and private lives on a global basis [The Open University].
  7. The Principles of Incident Management: Learn more about how food companies can protect consumers from unsafe foods. This presentation also focuses on the legislative requirements in relation to the effective control of unsafe food [MSUglobal].
  8. Nutrition and Medicine: Only 25 percent of U.S. medical schools address nutrition. This course addresses the use of nutrition in medical care [Tufts].
  9. Population Medicine: This course is directed at physicians, but provides the layman with insight into how medical practice is changing from individual-centered practice to community health perspectives [Tufts].
  10. Public Health Preparedness & Emergency Response: Learn more about public health preparedness and emergency response through these lectures [Webcast Berkeley].


  1. Health Differences Between Women and Men: Explore some of the health issues unique to men and to women [Columbia].
  2. Issues in Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Learn more about complementary and alternative resources to traditional Western medicine through this short course [The Open University].
  3. Measuring Health Disparities: This is a basic course for healthcare practitioners that focuses on how to understand, define, and measure health disparity [Open.Michigan].
  4. The History of Public Health: Learn ah historical interpretation of how the theory and practice of public health in today’s world has come to be what it is today [Johns Hopkins].
  5. The Politics of Pollution: Learn more about the impact of industrial production on the well-being of workers and consumers [Columbia].

Policy Issues

  1. Changing the Face of American Healthcare: Learn more about the strengths and weaknesses in the current American health care system [Notre Dame].
  2. Comparative Health Policy: This course examines health care policy problems facing the U.S. [MIT].
  3. Coping with Mental Illness and Crafting Public Policy: This symposium was held in 2002, but the papers, links of interest, written summaries, slide presentations and more are offered at this site for perusal [UC Berkeley].
  4. Ethical Issues in Public Health: This course focuses on ethical theory and current ethical issues in public health and health policy [Johns Hopkins].
  5. Fundamentals of Public Policy: This introductory course explores policy-making in general and serves as an underlying course that can preface any medical or health policy issues [MIT].
  6. Introduction to Health Policy: This course serves as an introduction to material covered in the Department of Health Policy and Management [Johns Hopkins].
  7. Medical Terminology: Don’t stumble over medical terminology, especially when you can learn more about this topic through this course [College of Eastern Utah].
  8. Moral and Ethical Principles in End of Life Care: This course asks participants to explore beliefs, feelings and attitudes about ethical decision-making processes involved in areas such as palliative care [The Open University].
  9. Public Opinion and American Democracy: Examine public opinion and learn about its place in the American political system [MIT].
  10. The Politics of Health Care: How does the lack of health insurance affect over 40 million Americans and their families [Columbia]?
  11. U.S. Social Policy: This course covers the historical development and contemporary politics of U.S. social policy [MIT].
  12. Values, Ethics, and Public Policy: Learn more about the ways in which moral and political values come into play in the American policy process, particularly as they affect non-elected public officials who work in a world shaped by politics [Open.Michigan].


  1. Harvard Medical School: Open courseware programs at this site range from health care policy issues to preventative measures and immunology. Use the search engine to find a course or view the entire list through tabs at the top of the page [Harvard].
  2. Health/Medicine: These podcasts offer a wide variety of perspectives on health, policy issues, preventative measures and global issues [University of Virginia].

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