Contagion: infectious disease and society
Infectious diseases have affected humanity since our very beginnings, and the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that infectious diseases still play a major role in our lives today. Studying contagion can spotlight many questions about the world and society we live in. So, in this course, we’ll focus not only on the biological, medical and epidemiological facets of infectious diseases, but also on how we’ve dealt with contagion in the past and today, and how infectious diseases shape our society. We’ll look at infectious diseases through the lens of global health: we’ll be thinking about health inequities and what social and political factors contribute to them.
This interdisciplinary course is for everyone! Whether you’re drawn to medicine, are interested in society, policy, or history, this course will give you a new perspective on the tiny germs that are such a huge part of what it is to be human
Through the topic of infectious disease, we’ll tackle the big questions of what health even is, how we measure and study it, and why it even matters. We’ll look at some of these topics:
– Burden of disease and pathogenesis: what does it mean to be healthy or ill? What infectious diseases are out there and how do they spread? And can we measure this all?
– Prevention and treatment: from toilets to CRISPR. What are the frontiers of infectious disease? What’s antimicrobial resistance, why is it such a big deal, and what do we do now?
– Smallpox as a case study: humanity’s biggest achievement! How do we eradicate a plague and why have we only managed it once?
– Stigma, oppression, and resistance: when medicine causes harm. Life in the AIDS years – how did patients become activists and scientists fighting for their lives?
– Contagion and the environment: where do new pathogens come from, and how is climate change affecting the health of millions around the globe?