Life and Death in Data: Plagues, Pestilence, and Pandemics
Why should I take this Trinity Elective?
Infectious diseases with pandemic potential have emerged regularly throughout history while epidemics are an ongoing problem that populations across the globe deal with on a regular basis. From the Black Death to COVID-19, this module will explore the science, history, and mystery of pandemic disease. When will the Next Big One emerge and how can we prepare for it? Are pandemics independent misfortunes, or linked? Are we causing them? Through this module we will learn how COVID fits into earlier pandemics in human history, and how our economic, social, political and medical responses compare with how people have dealt with pandemics at different points in history. We will also work to develop our statistical literacy, understand key infectious disease metrics, and learn how to identify misrepresentations and misinterpretations of data.
What will I learn?
- You will consider historical and contemporary texts that deal with the impacts of mass death spanning accounts of the demise of Athenian democracy to Maggie O’ Farrell’s novel ‘Hamnet’.
- You will learn what pathogens are, how we can study their genomes and what they can tell us about the spread of disease.
- You will learn to interpret quantitative data and statistics and communicate clear messages about health data.
What will I do?
- Attend a diverse set of lectures spanning temporal and textual analysis of pandemic to the basic statistics of infectious disease.
- Suggest themes for interdisciplinary workshops during which you will engage with lecturers and guest speakers.
- Complete problem-based online activities linked to topics covered in the lectures.
- Work collaboratively in small multidisciplinary groups to produce social media content that improves public understanding of topics covered in the lectures
How will this be delivered?
- Online and face-to-face lectures from leading academics in history, medicine, classics and genetics (~18 hours).
- Tutorial on curatorial assessment focussed on collections housed in the Anatomy Museum, Trinity College Dublin (~2 hour).
- 4 interdisciplinary workshops/discussion forums(~5 hours).
- Participation in online web-supported discussion platforms and blogs.
How will this be assessed?
- Online summative assessment after completion of elective (35%).
- Group work to create educational content related to the course for social media (30%).
- Individual blog post or curatorial research project that develops and critically examines content from the elective (35%).
Who can take this Trinity Elective?
- Any student eligible to take a Trinity Elective can select this Trinity Elective except for the students from the following programmes: Microbiology. Also any students taking the Trinity Elective TEU00512 Vaccines - Friend or Foe? cannot select this Trinity Elective.