Managing Global Challenges: Disease Outbreaks & Global Climate Change


3.0 units of USC credit




Monday through Friday, 9:00am – 4:00pm

Special Dress Code



Ebola outbreak! Hottest year on record, yet again! Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome strikes! Largest natural disaster damages ever recorded! E.Coli in your backyard!  These are all headlines that have struck the international news cycle in the last year, and they serve as the crux of focus for this class. Typically, these issues – that of health and the environment – have been considered “low politics” in the field of International Relations. But in today’s globalized and “border-less” world, they are impossible to ignore.

This course will introduce students to today’s contemporary global health and environmental problems. Starting with a focus on global health, this class will take a specific focus on disasters, man-made and natural. This includes analysis of infectious disease outbreaks, bio-terrorist attacks, and natural disasters, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. In the second half of the class, we will transition to focus on several broad level environmental processes that are impacting peoples around the world, including climate change, deforestation, biodiversity loss and water scarcity.

In both sections, we will utilize college-level readings, documentary films and participatory exercises, such mock negotiations, to examine and critically analyze these complex issues.


  • Experience what it is to “See/Act like a State” as you participate in Model United Nations negotiations to halt a highly infectious disease outbreak and respond to a major international natural disaster.
  • Engage in several additional participatory learning exercises, including the Prisoner’s Dilemma, the Tragedy of the Commons and a variety of stakeholder case studies.
  • Examine contemporary case studies that will help you make sense of news headlines and the history of conflicts internationally.
  • Learn from an instructor who has been to three international climate change negotiation rounds, including the most recent Paris climate talks in December of 2015.
  • Focus on impacted vulnerable communities, specifically communities of color, women, children and Indigenous Peoples.
  • Engage in critical and analytical writing and debate assignments that will prepare you for more advanced college work.

Topic of Study

  • Environmental problems
  • Global public health
  • Global climate change
  • Infectious diseases & natural disasters
  • International governance
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Environmental justice