Creative Thinking in Epidemiology: 4. Wider discussion among researchers

4.  Wider discussion among researchers: As mentioned in the introduction, my Epidemiological Thinking course (http://ppol753.wikispaces.umb.edu) is designed with a view to more non-specialists becoming conversant with the methods, results, and controversies in social epidemiology and related fields.  I envisage a form of epidemiological literacy in which specialists can be drawn into conversation or collaboration by other researchers who appreciate epidemiological concepts even if they lack the technical skills to analyze the data themselves.  Indeed, I hope my course engages students who would either avoid a biostatistically oriented epidemiology course or would lose their grip on most of the technical details after struggling through such a course.

The second Appendix consists of extracts from the course syllabus and accompanying wikipages: the key ideas for each session; my initial notes to students; and references to the readings.  As I hope is evident, the course as a whole aims to cultivate skills and dispositions of critical thinking and of life-long, cooperative learning facilitated by the resources of the internet. The use of controversies follows an idea central to critical thinking that we understand ideas better by holding them in tension with alternatives.

Questions:

  • How would you convey a sequence of basic ideas in thinking like epidemiologists?
  • How would you adjust this sequence for thinking like social epidemiologists who pay attention to possible social influences on the development and unequal distribution of diseases and behaviors in populations?
  • What revisions would you recommend to the readings chosen and to the notes in the appendix that connect the idea to the readings?   (Feel free to use the web link to contribute these suggestions.)
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