Geography 580/HSERV 586

Medical Geography

Fall, 2005

Wednesdays 2:30-5:20, Smith Hall, Room 409


Professor: Dr. Jonathan D. Mayer, Professor, Geography, Epidemiology and International Health, and Adjunct Professor, Medicine (Infectious Diseases), Family Medicine, and Health Services 

Office hours: Wed. 1:30-2:30 in Smith Hall, Room 412-C.

Tuesday 11-12 in Health Sciences F-259

Course email list:


The purpose of this course is to provide a broad introduction to medical geography. It is assumed that students have some background in medical geography, epidemiology, or the health-related social sciences.


In a course/seminar that is as short as this, it is inevitable that some topics will not be covered. However, I am very open to student suggestions, preferences, and interests. On the first day of class, I will solicit your suggested changes to the course topics that follow. Thus, the topics are only suggested topics and are contingent upon specific interests.


There is no textbook for the class. Readings will be on electronic reserve, which may be accessed from the following website:


Follow the prompts, and search for either GEOG 580 or HSERV 586. The readings are identical. Since much of the class will consist of discussion, I will assume that all students will have done all of the readings prior to each class, with the exception of the first class session.


There is only one written requirement for this class: a term paper on a topic of interest to you. The paper can be empirical or more theoretical; however, it does need to deal with a topic that you can justify as having medical geographic content. The work that you cite does not need to have been conducted by geographers—you will find quintessentially geographic work by medical entomologists, geneticists, medical anthropologists, epidemiologists, and many others. Projects by small groups are acceptable, since this is the manner in which most research is conducted and published, as long as you clarify the separate responsibilities of each group member.


Papers should be approximately 30 pages long, unless you intend to submit it to a publication, in which case it should conform to the style and length of articles in that publication. Standard medical/public health citation format should be used.

Course Topics


September 28

Introduction and Organization


Golledge RG. The nature of geographic knowledge. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 2002;92:1-14.


Kearns R, Moon G. From medical geography to health geography: novelty, place and theory after a decade of change. Progress in Human Geography 2002;26:605-625.


Rosenberg MW. Medical geography or health geography? Populations, peoples and places. International Journal of Population Geography 1998;4:211-226.


Parr H. Medical geography: care and caring. Progress in Human Geography 2003;27:212-221.


October 5

Structure of Medical Geography


October 12

The Ecology of Infectious Disease


October 19

 Modeling the Geographical Spread of Infectious Disease


October 26

Geographical Perspectives on HIV/AIDS


November 2

Geography and Chronic Disease


November 9

Geographical Information Systems and Medical Geography


November 16

Geographical Perspectives on Health Care Systems


November 23

The Dilemmas of Rural and Underserved Areas


November 30

Small Area Studies and Evidence-Based Medicine


December 7

Social Theory and Narrative in Medical Geography