The Health of Nations: Medicine, Health Policy & Global Studies

This Endeavor program begins in the fall 2024 semester with a global survey of how public problems are defined, how different policy solutions are crafted, and the ways in which we judge their effec­tiveness. We use the case study countries that we study—Japan, China, Vietnam, Singapore, India, South Africa and Brazil—to illustrate the different ways that countries craft public policies, why they do so, and what the tradeoffs and consequences are. We then turn our focus in the spring 2025 semester to U.S. health policy. We study (1) major health policies involving those related to medical and public health service financing and delivery, public and private health insurance, licensure of clinical health professionals, regulation of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, and access to healthcare services (including those for mental health, reproductive health, and end-of-life care); (2) health systems, health services, health administration; and (3) concepts involving how healthcare is financed, organized, and delivered both in the U.S. and abroad. 

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  • Coursework Overview

    The coursework for this Endeavor community involves two one-unit courses, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester, both taught by Dr. Mayes.

    Fall 2024 Semester Spring 2025 Semester
    FYS 100: Global Studies and Public Policy (1 unit) HS 100: Health Systems and Policy (1 unit)

    HCS 100 is a course requirement towards the major/minor in Health Studies, as well as is recommended for students who are interested in pre-health fields.

    FYS 100 satisfies a general education requirement; students are required to take one first-year seminar (FYS) during each of their first semester at Richmond.

  • Specific Course Information

    FYS 100: Global Studies and Public Policy

    Following the itinerary of Semester at Sea around the world from Japan to China, Vietnam, Singapore, India, South Africa and Brazil, this First Year Seminar examines how public problems are defined, how different policy solutions are crafted, and the ways in which we judge their effec­tiveness. As the art of political decision-making, public policy reflects the reality that: (1) penalties and incentives (“sticks and carrots”) are what primarily drive much of modern life; (2) information is key to structuring effective penalties and incentives; and that (3) thinking analytically and empirically, knowing what to measure and how to measure it, is as important as thinking normatively.

    HS 100: Health Systems and Policy

    HS 100 is designed to provide an introductory overview of: (1) how health care is financed, organized, and delivered; (2) public health, health administration, and bioethics; and (3) major health policy areas and issues from epidemiology to health insurance, Medicare & Medicaid, geriatrics, pediatrics, doctors, nurses, hospitals, mental health, women’s health, global health, obesity, nutrition, pharmaceuticals, death and more. In drawing from a variety of perspectives, the course surveys the key stakeholders: those who pay for, provide and receive care. No particular disciplinary background is assumed, nor is any special familiarity with the field of health care required. 


  • Faculty Information

    Dr. Rick Mayes is a professor of health policy in the University of Richmond’s department of health studies.

  • Endeavor Short Course Information

    As part of the Endeavor program, you will particiapte in the popular Endeavor Pre-Orientation program, where you will take a short course led by Dr. Mayes.

    Short Course Description: Pandemic: Rx for Survival

    This short course examines how and why human beings do what they do to get what they want. Morality, in so many words, represents the ideal way that people want (usually others) to behave.  Public policy—influenced by economics, psychology, philosophy, politics, culture, tradition, and religion—reflects essentially the same aspiration, but is based on the way people actually behave.  Also, personal opinions are helpful, but operate better as starting points for creating testable theories and argu­ments about what the best policies are for, say: improving education, strengthening national security, lowering unemploy­ment, increasing health, expanding employment, decreasing poverty, protecting the environment, preventing crime, and consuming limited resources. In its purest form, the goal of any public policy is to make life better for as many people as possible. What makes public policy so challenging and interesting, though, is that people disagree over what constitutes things such as equality, fairness, effectiveness, and causation.