Instructor(s): C. Tess Sheldon

For graduate students, the course number is LAW6006HS.

Note: This course satisfies the Perspective course requirement.

Note: The Blackboard program will be used for this course. Students must self-enrol in Blackboard as soon as confirmed in the course in order to obtain course information.

Society has an interest in assuring the conditions in which people can be healthy. How can the law support this aim? This course explores the relation of law and legal practice to population health, by drawing on the twin fields of human rights law and public health. We rely on a contextual focus on population health, rather than observing health behaviours in isolation. We also rely on emergent understandings of human rights as inextricably linked to public health outcomes.

We begin by canvassing the fundamental principles of public health law, including legal approaches to advancing human well-being by improving population health and remediating health inequities. Selected topics in public health law will illustrate the state’s duty to protect the public’s health: food labeling, access to safe injection services, access to health care services for marginalized communities, tobacco control, exposure to environmental hazards, and emergency preparedness. Particular attention will be paid to situations where human rights and the state’s duty to protect public health collide. Finally, we critically evaluate law’s potential to serve as a powerful tool for the public’s health, including by constructing a legal response to a contemporary public health question.

Participation (10%); a short presentation on a selected reading (10%); a 1-page outline (10%); and a final paper (worth 70%) on the topic set out in the paper outline (5,000 words).

At a Glance

Second Term
Perspective course



15 JD

6 DLSPH students


M: 10:30 - 12:20