November 5, 2010
Course Explores Cross-section of Human, Animal and Environmental Health
In an effort to inform health policy and improve global health care training and delivery and respond to student demand, an innovative new course is being offered this spring by faculty at Duke, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill. The interdisciplinary course will explore the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health and is among the first of its kind in the United States.
The graduate-level course titled One Health (GLHLTH 371) will be taught by Duke associate professor of medicine and infectious diseases Chris Woods. It aims to be collaborative and participatory in nature, and it uniquely bridges disciplines and universities in the Triangle. The course is open to students from Duke, NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill who are enrolled in global health, public health, medicine, veterinary medicine or environmental programs.
“This course is really groundbreaking in that it brings together students from very different programs to learn about this exciting new approach to health. It will get students thinking about health in an entirely new way that encourages big-picture thinking and interdisciplinarity, and they will learn how to incorporate it into their professional lives,” said Meredith Barrett, a teaching assistant for the course and a Duke doctoral student studying ecology.
The course is based on an increasingly popular and, integrated approach to health called One Health, which is being adopted by many health organizations and policymakers. This cross-discipline philosophy gained national attention in the last four years with the joining of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the American Medical Association (AMA) and many other organizations in creation of a national One Health Commission.
The One Health approach offers a more holistic understanding of prevention of disease and maintenance of health and also addresses sustainability challenges. Course topics will include the bi-directional impact of animal health on human health and the impact of earth’s changing ecology on health. Students will work to creatively design interdisciplinary interventions that improve global health using a One Health model.
The recent scholarly paper “Integrating a One Health approach in education to address global health and sustainability challenges” - which was authored by Duke students from multiple disciplines - identified the Triangle as one of the potential “Centers of One Health Excellence” and described opportunities for collaborative student programs, environmental training for health professionals and institutional support.
The new One Health graduate course, which will include a weekly multi-campus seminar, also serves as the basis of the One Health Intellectual Exchange Group, an extension of the Triangle Global Health Consortium’s One Health Collaborative, created last summer. Woods is a member of the program’s steering committee.
Contact Meredith Barrett for more information about the course.