The purpose of this interdisciplinary course is to learn in a cooperative atmosphere about the island nation of Haiti, presently the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Our point of entry is Tracy Kidder’s non-fiction MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS (Random House, 2004), where Kidder traces Paul Farmer’s life in an American hippie family where he is free to read, listen to stories, and to let his imagination roam. His immense curiosity eventually leads him in his teens to Port-au-Prince and Haiti’s Central Plateau where the shock of health conditions in the 1980’s spur him to action and commitment. Farmer's organization, Partners in Health, has become a major force in confronting the medical catastrophe caused by the 2010 Haitian earthquake, which killed 230,000 people, as well AIDS, TB, and malnutrition worldwide. The course will contextualize Farmer’s life in Haiti, and we'll begin to understand the historical, political, economic, social and environmental forces which produced the Haiti which Farmer entered and which he has done much to heal. Each student produces an oral report and a paper or creative project tying together his or her intellectual interests (history, economics, medicine, etc.) and the reality of Haitian life.
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