Course: Principles of Population Change

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Course Description

Provides students with a basic understanding of the science of demography and health implications of major population issues in the contemporary world. Students explore population changes over time; elements of demography; child survival and mortality; family and households and demographic change; the demography of social and economic inequality, role of women, urbanization, migration and fertility. Finally, students examine world demographic patterns, synthesizing the data and issues surrounding the importance of population to public health.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to --

  1. Delineate the substantive scope of demography
  2. Describe the major trends in birth rates, death rates, population growth, population sex and age structure and population distribution throughout history
  3. Identify the major explanations for changes in demographic rates and population distribution
  4. Identify how demographic rates and population distribution impinge upon the health of populations
  5. Identify how demographic behaviors affect and are affected by family and kinship structure

Course Requirements

There are six assignments in this course. In both Assignments 1 and 2 (worth 15 points each), students are asked to graph data that they are given in an Excel file. The objectives of both these assignments are:

  1. to whet the appetite for topics covered in the population growth (Assignment 1) and mortality (Assignment 2) lectures
  2. to induce students to actually grapple with the data at the heart of demography

The purpose of Assignments 3, 5, and 6 (worth 15 points each) is twofold. The first purpose is to direct students to consider how the somewhat abstract ideas about demography that the instructor deals with in the lectures and accompanying readings affect people's lives, families, and health by considering a reading that describes such effects. The second, more practical purpose of Assignments 3, 5, and 6 is to ensure that everyone who attends the discussion sessions does the readings that will organize those discussions.

The purpose of Assignment 4 (worth 25 points) is to direct student attention to how population distribution (and changes therein) affects health disparities.