By Andrea Charise, Ghazal Fazli, Jessica Fields, Laura Bisaillon and Nicholas D. Spence
Newly published piece in the Conversation, co-written by departmental members Professor Jessica Fields and Professor Nicholas Spence looks at how health is taught and communicated at the post-secondary level. Given that health research is interdisciplinary, post secondary education needs to provide students with the tools to critically analyse the methods and assumptions used to investigate the topic of Covid-19. To get a better understanding of Covid-19 a multidisciplinary approach is needed.
Professor Jessica Fields is the Director of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Health & Society and a Professor of Health Studies and Sociology at University of Toronto Scarborough.
We've included an excerpt of the article below. The article can be found here.
‘How to live in a pandemic’ is the type of university class we need during COVID-19
Currently, we are all bombarded with headlines on the latest research related to COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that health is a deeply interdisciplinary issue, demanding expert responses from a cross-section of fields: the arts, public health, social work and K-12 education among them.
As an interdisciplinary collective of academics trained in a range of fields from the arts to social science to clinical sciences, we have witnessed first-hand a crucial problem in how health is taught and communicated at the post-secondary level. What is often missed, but is critical to contextualizing scientific findings, are examinations of the assumptions and methods used to conduct health-related research.
This omission reflects a problem in Canadian colleges and universities, which generally deliver post-secondary curriculum using a single-discipline approach. A single-discipline approach to health education does not engage the full picture nor provides the groundwork for innovative, equitable solutions in the future.
At the post-secondary level, for example, a microbiology course might focus on lab-based methods used to diagnose whether someone has developed antibodies to a disease like COVID-19, while a typical public health course might focus on the mechanics of contact tracing.
Deeper understandings of health require a co-operative investigation of the various frameworks, techniques and assumptions that guide research practices and how they are communicated.