Sample Syllabus

The U.S. has spent the last four decades embroiled in a highly controversial and arguably futile “War on Drugs.” During the same period, medical providers have increasingly relied on pharmaceuticals to treat a wide variety of ailments. This course takes a sociological approach to understanding how U.S. society draws boundaries around drugs—rendering some beneficial and some illegal—and how these boundaries shift over time. We will examine what constitutes a “drug,” how drugs’ meanings and uses have changed over time, and how professional, economic, and cultural forces shape how we make sense of drugs and the people who use them. We will pay special attention to the consequences of the “War on Drugs,” especially how U.S. drug policy has helped to perpetuate and exacerbate inequalities, and to growing trends in addressing prescription narcotic abuse that enlist several of the same agencies and strategies.

topics covered

Drug Diversion
Frontline Work
Healthcare and Criminal Justice: Intersections
Health Policy
Prescription Drug Abuse