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Epidemics and Social Science: a Holistic Approach

Programmes organised by the Graduate School of Social Science (including this programme) are cancelled for summer 2020 in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in following this programme in the future, please email summer-info-gsss@uva.nl with the programme name in the subject line and we will keep you updated on all developments in the coming months. Want to keep updated on social media and online content for summer 2020? Follow us on Instagram and Facebook at the links below.



Programme at a glance

Academic dates: 28 June - 16 July 2020
Housing dates: 26 June - 17 July 2020
Academic fee: € 1600 read more about what’s included
Housing fee:

€ 600 for a private room with private facilities and a € 75 refundable deposit. For more information, see Housing and practical matters.

Credits: 6 European Credits
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. 
Academic director: Dr. Danny de Vries 
Early application deadline: 1 February 2020
Regular application deadline: 1 April 2020

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?

This three-week 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.

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).

Epidemics and Social Science: a Holistic Approach
Vorm Kortlopend
Studielast 6 EC, 3 weken
Voertaal Engels
Start Juni