In 2007 I started teaching a graduate course on Epidemiological Thinking for non-specialists, in which I, as a non-specialist myself, emphasized epidemiological literacy with a view to collaborating thoughtfully with specialists, not technical expertise (see http://bit.ly/epicourse). More people should be acquainted or even conversant with epidemiological thinking (in my opinion, but that’s what blogs are for) and teaching epidemiology as a statistical methods course pushes many people away (or leaves them with the “I hate stats attitude”).
The current course description reads:
Introduction to the concepts, methods, and problems involved in analyzing the biological and social influences on behaviors and diseases and in translating such analyses into population health policy and practice. Special attention given to social inequalities, changes over the life course, and heterogeneous pathways. Case studies and course projects are shaped to accommodate students with interests in diverse fields related to health and public policy. Students are assumed to have a statistical background, but the course emphasizes epidemiological literacy with a view to collaborating thoughtfully with specialists, not technical expertise.
The syllabus is organized around a sequence of basic ideas in thinking like epidemiologists, especially epidemiologists who pay attention to possible social influences on the development and unequal distribution of diseases and behaviors in populations. As I prepare to teach it for the third time, I will use a series of posts to review that sequence of basic ideas, starting with “Phenomena: Exploring the ‘natural history’ of disease,” and ending with “Popular epidemiology and health-based social movements.”
Postscript, 19 Jan. ’11: The curriculum is now, Open Source-like, set up to take contributions, using http://bit.ly/EpiContribute, in the form of:
- suggested revisions and additions to the ideas and their description;
- additional or replacement readings related to any of the ideas; and
- annotations of the current or suggested readings.
p.s. Shameless plug: The course will be offered again this spring (starting Jan. 26). It can be taken from a distance and welcomes a few additional registrants; see http://uc.umb.edu/dl/spring11/ppolg753l/