Reproductive Health and Human Rights: The Way Forward

By Laura Reichenbach; Mindy Jane Roseman | Go to book overview

Chapter 13
Situating Reproductive Health
Within the Academy

Alaka Basu

If reproductive health is an academic field, what does its core curriculum, or even its core course look like? This chapter examines the potential for and the problems with designing an academic course on reproductive health. Such an examination is important because, while reproductive health may be a legitimate concern of academia in principle (and even that is debatable), it has not received serious attention as a field of study in practice, although ad hoc courses on reproductive health have become common in many institutions. In addition, quite apart from the substantive content of a course (or series of courses) on reproductive health, one needs to think about the potential audience for such courses—who are the students of reproductive health? Indeed, the content of pedagogy on reproductive health will crucially depend on the backgrounds and professional interests of the students to whom it is addressed.

As a point of departure, it is worth considering whether reproductive health is a legitimate field of pedagogical activity at all. Should attention be paid to the teaching (as opposed to the training) of the subject. Teaching here refers to imparting critical methods of analysis and research, while training refers primarily to imparting the technical ability to deal with the medical recognition and treatment of reproductive health problems. Especially given that the larger framework of the reproductive health paradigm is political rather than intellectual, are the immediate interests of reproductive health best served by biomedical training and the longer term interests best served by social activism rather than abstract research in the academy? These are not questions that were asked by the fledgling Cairo Programme of Action at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) (UN

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