Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Center for Contemporary South Asia

PhD Candidate in Behavioral and Social Health Sciences, William Lodge II, was awarded the 2022-2023 Saxena Graduate Teaching Fellowship. For the fellowship, he created an entirely new South Asian Studies course offering,"Introduction to Modern South Asia: Public Health From Theory to Practice," which he taught in spring 2023. Lodge shares his experience teaching the course below.

"As a teaching fellow at the Saxena Center for Contemporary South Asia, I had the privilege of creating and instructing an undergraduate course titled "Introduction to Modern South Asia: Public Health from Theory to Practice" that explored public health in South Asian countries, namely India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. By incorporating assigned readings, films, lectures, and class discussions, the course offered a comprehensive overview of public health in South Asia. The course began by delving into the region's historical context and critically examining how colonial powers have shaped and influenced contemporary health systems. To enrich our discussions on public health concepts and theories, we engaged with influential postcolonial theorists such as Homi K. Bhabha, Gayatri Spivak, and Frantz Fanon, who illuminated concepts of hybridity, power dynamics, and subalternity.

The primary objective of this course was to bridge the gap between theory and practice, empowering students to develop and evaluate public health initiatives and policies that alleviate the burden of disease in these countries. By exploring the interplay between history, theory, and health systems, I encouraged students to think innovatively and fostered their ability to approach health concerns in the region through inventive problem-solving and effective health communication strategies. The resounding success of the course lies in how it cultivated an awareness of the profound impact that history and theory have on health systems. This new understanding compelled students to envision new approaches to address health challenges in South Asia, demonstrating their capacity for innovation and their commitment to building a healthier future for the region.

Overall, the experience of teaching this course reinforced the importance of interdisciplinary education in the field of public health. By integrating historical analysis, theoretical perspectives, and practical applications in the classroom, I am inspired to continue this teaching pedagogy as an academic and researcher. I am particularly motivated to emphasize the importance of bringing scholars together to collaborate and improve health outcomes in the South Asian region, highlighting the power of interdisciplinary approaches in solving complex public health challenges."