Disease in America: Investigation and Response to Outbreaks

« Return to Course Catalog

One Section Available to Choose From:

Course DatesLengthMeeting TimesStatusFormatInstructor(s)CRN
June 21, 2021 - July 21, 20216/21 - 7/214 WeeksOnlineCancelledOnlineCara Sammartino

Course Description

Students enrolled in this course will become disease investigators. How are diseases spread, investigated, and controlled? Who should be involved in the day to day decision making for the response? Students will look at all social and environmental factors that influence how we respond to outbreaks. The main objective is for students to understand the basics of infectious disease epidemiology, dissemination of information critical information, and to identify all potential barriers for success in containing the outbreak.

This course will cover multiple outbreak investigations- HIV/AIDS, Ebola, Pandemic Flu, and Food-Borne Illness. Information will be conveyed through a series of lectures, case studies, review of popular media, discussions, and problem sets. Since the course is interdisciplinary, students will spend time each lecture learning the basic principles of epidemiology and how these principles are applied to different scenarios. Students will learn the difference from a disease that is endemic to when it becomes an outbreak and be able to calculate the data needed to make that decision.

From each outbreak, students will discuss how certain decisions were made and who was included in that decision-making. Students will be engaged through use of data in problem sets, information dissemination by analysis of the popular media, and through public speaking in learning the art of public health communication. Each situation calls for the inclusion of different stakeholders and also depends on the current political environment. Students will evaluate the current landscape and discuss why decisions are made at each point in time. There will be a final project where students will conduct their own disease investigation and present findings and recommendations to their classmates.

Texts such as basic principles of epidemiology and Randy Schultz's book "And the Band Played On," and some articles from both the popular press as well as peer-reviewed journals will be used in this course. This course provides a foundation for students interested in public health, epidemiology, and health policy.

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
• Describe data sources and methods for detecting an outbreak
• Calculate basic epidemiology measures
• Discuss the success and failures of outbreak response using historical examples
• Evaluate the use of popular news in disseminating information to the public
• Identify the role of government, communications, and law in an outbreak
• Communicate findings to a broad audience

Prerequisites: HS Algebra, Honors English Students should at least be able to understand ratios, decimals, multiplication, and the ability to read through and successfully interpret word problems. Students should be advanced high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors for this course.

Course Information

  • Course Code: CEBI0994

Program Information


Brown’s Pre-College Program in the liberal arts and sciences for students completing grades 9-12 by June 2021.

Visit Program Page View Course Pricing Information Sessions Learn How to Apply