One of the most fascinating and frightening aspects of disease, epidemics are known to have affected civilizations, medicine, and human interactions since the beginning of written history. If you were born even a century ago, your chances of dying or becoming disabled by an infectious disease as a child would have been very high. Thanks to modern medicine like antibiotics and vaccines, many of those childhood illnesses are all but eradicated in our world.
Unfortunately, our battle against epidemic diseases continues, despite medical successes and our improved understanding of the causes and process of disease. New diseases are emerging, and those considered controlled are re-emerging in more virulent, resistant forms. News reports are documenting outbreaks of strange diseases in both underdeveloped regions and those with the highest levels of medical care.
This dynamic course is designed to enable students to understand why new diseases are appearing and why those we thought conquered are reappearing. This is done in the context of basic concepts upon which our understanding of biology is built; the interdependence of life and the interconnectedness of our world. Epidemic diseases will be analyzed using a holistic approach to controlling and eradicating disease called One Health. This framework will help us see how our past and present actions will affect the future course of disease.
After we’ve covered the basics, students will utilize the One Health approach throughout the course building a solid foundation of the need for global collaboration in the fight against disease. With this foundation, students will tackle dilemmas such as the vaccination debate, antibiotic resistance, the human animal interface, food distribution, and travel quarantines. We’ll also discuss breakthroughs in technology including how smart phones and social media are revolutionizing disease surveillance!
Current information on infectious diseases and their treatment and control are available through many on-line resources. Students will explore these resources to understand the biology of pathogens and the diseases they cause. Students will complete lab exercises, examine case histories, and perform simulations to better understand the impact of infectious diseases on populations. A final student-created project will allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the need for collaboration between scientists, biostatisticians, farmers, veterinarians, doctors, and public officials in developing and implementing plans to control and eradicate outbreaks.
Successful completion of a full year of high school biology or equivalent
- Students will gain a more thorough understanding of the basic science of the biology of pathogens and the diseases they cause.
- Students will research and discuss the impact of epidemics upon human history and utilize this knowledge throughout the course in analyzing case studies creating solutions to outbreaks.
- Students will explain how epidemics have changed scientific knowledge and public health standards.
- Students will apply scientific knowledge to emerging diseases and use this knowledge to simulate their potential effect.
- Students will use a holistic approach to critically analyzing the control of disease emergence.
- Students will use on-line resources to research diseases, discover present global re/emergence of outbreaks, and learn about the myriad of careers associated with the eradication of disease.
- Students will collaborate, discuss, debate, and create plans to the control and management of emerging/re-emerging diseases utilizing the One Health approach.
Science - Life Science
11, 12, 13
F16, F17, SP17, SP18
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AdvancED, Certified by NCAA for initial-eligibility (VHS School Code: 221356), Middle States Commission on Secondary Schools