New Biology / New Society
Full course description
Rapid developments in the biomedical sciences have led to an increased awareness of the multitude of factors contributing to the complexity of disease aetiology. This awareness has resulted in the so-called “new biosciences” in which a variety of biomedical disciplines is integrated. After an introduction in which the emergence of new global health threats and changing distribution patterns of major global diseases will be explored, the course will be dedicated to the study of underlying causes of these diseases and to the principles of “new biosciences”. Starting from the notion of biocomplexity, various interlinking elements like modes of transmission, risk factors and complex aetiologies of major global diseases and the role of epigenetics will be explored. Attention will be paid to social determinants of health and the way “new public health” incorporate biological and sociological determinants of health in promotion strategies. Students will be challenged to study the new social relations emerging due to changes in disease aetiology and intervention strategies. As a consequence of the developments in new biosciences and new public health for instance, the human body is turning into a focal point of biological, psychological, socio-cultural, environmental, political, and economic determinants. The course involves a critical understanding of the challenges created by the new biosciences and new public health and addresses questions like: “How do changes in biosciences and public health challenge our understanding of and attitude towards our societies, bodies, health, health interventions, and rights and obligations as patients and citizens?” and “How and to what extent are scientific and technological innovations being shaped by the societal contexts into which they are introduced?”.
Upon successful completion of this course students will Knowledge and understanding • have insight in emerging diseases and global health reconfigurations • have an understanding of the interplay between biomedical, global and social processes involved in major global diseases • have a basic understanding of the “new-biosciences” (including epigenetics) and their impact on global health (delivery) • have insight in major determinants of global disease • be familiar with current ecological models underlying new public health • be familiar with major principles and concepts concerning new public health (e.g participation, empowerment, networking, entrepreneurship, etc.) • have knowledge of strategies and interventions developed within the (new) biosciences and (new) public health • posses analytical tools to come to a critical understanding of how new biosciences, epigentics and new public health impact on society (e.g. our understanding of our bodies, our health, health interventions and right as citizens and patients) • be able to appreciate the global dimensions of these impacts • be able to appreciate the theoretical and epistemological issues raised by these impacts • have an understanding of new forms of governance and accountability Applying knowledge • can integrate and apply theoretical knowledge to assess real life examples • can effectively evaluate and monitor the impact of new biosciences and new public health on (global) society Making judgements • can assess the quality and feasibility of global health interventions Communication • are able to communicate with experts and non-experts, by means of written reports or comments on the design, methodological issues, results and conclusions of observational studies that have been proposed / conducted by him/herself or by other investigators Learning skills • have acquired an attitude of life-long learning and the ability to use acquired skills throughout their professional life.