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Epidemics and Social Science: a Holistic Approach

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This two-week online summer course trains social scientists in the social aspects of epidemic preparedness and responses from global and local perspectives, to enable them to develop research and expertise for developing relevant studies during or after outbreaks on various continents. This “epidemic social science” is a holistic engagement with social, cultural, economic and political factors as they affect, and are affected by outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics, with a focus on how people (communities, responders, and others) experience, engage and negotiate these circumstances.

  • Programme at a glance
    Mode of instruction: Online (2 weeks)
    Academic dates: Monday 21 June - Friday 2 July 2021
    Academic fees: €750 read more about what is included.
    Credits: 4 European Credits. Read more about credits and credit transfer.  
    Early admission deadline: 1 February 2021
    Regular admission deadline: 1 May 2021
    Who is this programme for?                                                                                                                                                       For current university students (advanced Bachelors, Masters, Postgraduate) and Professionals in the social and behavioural sciences and medicine with an interest infectious threats, international development, and health.
  • Programme description

    At a conference in Luxembourg in 2015, Dr Margaret Chan, then Director of the World Health Organization, urged for increased attention in the realms of community engagement and culture to combat the outbreak: “we need to invest more time to understand the culture… we need to work with anthropologists, so we can communicate with the communities.” So, how do social scientists contribute effectively to epidemic preparedness and response?

    The course will address the following main themes relevant to epidemic social science research, covering four areas:

    1. The sociocultural determinants of emergence and transmission, including the overall frame of outbreak response; humans, animals and microbes; emergence and One Health; humans and medicines; anti-microbial resistance; health facilities: hotspots and care centers; and risk, inequalities and prevention.
    2. The social construction of care, including perceptions about knowledge and disease interpretation; epidemic narratives and communication; experiences of patients and health services; and the meaning and management of death and rituals.
    3. Biosecurity, public health measures and social links, including biosecurity, public health measures, control and trust; trust and collective engagement with vaccination; preparation, response and recovery.
    4. Method and ethics for research on the epidemic crisis, including the contribution of social sciences and governance of outbreak response, and methodology and ethics of social science investigation on health in an epidemic crisis.

    The curriculum also includes information from the medical sciences (medicine, public health, epidemiology) necessary to understand social issues, social science concepts, and key bridging concepts between social science and public health (risk, biosecurity, humanization of care, public health measures, etc.). Case studies are presented to articulate and discuss these notions regarding various infectious threats (Ebola, MERS, SARS, TB, measles, antimicrobial resistance, HIV/AIDS) and socioeconomic and cultural contexts (Asia, Europa, Africa).

  • Academic directors

    Dr. Danny de Vries is Assistant Professor in the Anthropology of Health with nearly 20 years of experience in applied research, including emergency preparedness for natural disasters (flood mitigation) and infectious diseases (HIV/AIDS, Lyme Disease/Tick borne encephalitis, norovirus). Five years of experience as monitoring and evaluation professional for large global health projects, such as USAID’s funded human resources for health strengthening (The Capacity Project), and human rights to health (Bridging the Gaps, Aids Fonds). Danny also sits on the board of Sharenet International, a knowledge platform for sexual and reproductive health and rights. Currently co-leader on capacity building work package for AIGHD’s Horizon 2020-funded program, called Global Social Sciences Network for Infectious Threats and Antimicrobial Resistance (SONAR-Global). Also principal investigator for AIGHD led PrEPArE Consortium (Public Health Emergency Preparedness Assessments for Europe) funded by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

    Aphaluck Bhatiasevi is a PhD candidate on Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. Her research looks into the visibility and invisibility of Melioidosis, a neglected disease which is internationally classified as a biological weapon. Aphaluck is on sabbatical leave from World Health Organization, where she has worked in multiple countries over 15 years. Aphaluck has worked in various social and behavioural science disciplines including applied anthropology, risk communication, community engagement, in responding to infectious disease outbreaks including Ebola, Zika, Cholera, MERS Coronavirus, Yellow Fever and crises caused by natural disasters.  Aphaluck’s work also involves capacity building support to WHO Member States within the International Health Regulations Framework. Prior to joining WHO, Aphaluck worked in Vietnam and Indonesia on animal health with the Food and Agriculture Organization and in Thailand as a health journalist. 

  • Explore our community

    Want to get to know more about studying in Amsterdam? Follow us on social media and join our summer community. Get a feel for our summer school vibe and our academic and social community, and learn about studying with us through the eyes of past summer school students. 

    Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter 

    Interested in hearing more about Danny and Aphaluck's work? In this interview, they reflect on the current global Covid-19 pandemic and the role of the social sciences in helping to treat the spread of infectious threats. 

Facts & Figures
Mode Online
Credits 4 ECTS, 2 weeks
Language of instruction English
Starts in June