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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Anthropology (ANTH)

ANTH 566 Infectious Diseases in Anthropological Populations (3) Surveys infectious diseases in history and prehistory; introduces concepts from microbiology, immunology, and epidemiology, applies them to past human populations.

ANTH 566 Infectious Diseases in Anthropological Populations (3)

Throughout history, more people have died of infectious diseases than of any other causes. Such diseases are therefore of great importance in human ecology and demography. Yet anthropologists have paid scant attention to the implications of infectious diseases for human populations, especially populations in the past. This course attempts to correct that oversight.

The course is designed for graduate students and advanced undergraduates in anthropology and related fields (biology, population studies, health sciences). The primary focus will be the role of infectious diseases in human population ecology, but enough background will be provided on the biology of infectious diseases to make the course as self-contained as possible. Thus, we will review basic information about the biology of pathogen-host interactions, including some elementary microbiology and immunobiology. (Note that the course is not intended to replace introductory-level courses in those fields.)

We will also discuss the evolutionary arms race between the human host and its pathogens, especially in the evolution of pathogen virulence.

Once this basic background has been provided, the remainder of the course will deal with infectious diseases in past human populations. What was the role of infectious diseases in population regulation? How did human population structure affect infectious disease dynamics? How did infectious diseases contribute to the mortality "crises" that are known to have affected many preindustrial societies?

To address these questions, we will review recent insights based on mathematical models of the epidemic process. The focus will not be on the mathematics per se--indeed, students need not have any special mathematical background. But they will be expected to learn Stella, a computer language for dynamic modeling. (Stella was chosen because it is easy to learn, and yet allows construction of sophisticated models without requiring any attention to the underlying math.) Toward the middle of the semester, students will break into 2-4 groups, each of which will select a particular disease or class of diseases, develop some models of them using Stella, and present the results to the class as a whole. The entire class will then work together to explore and extend the models developed by the separate groups.

Grading will be based on the group presentations, in which all students are required to participate. Participation in general classroom discussion will also be taken into account. Since the class will combine formal lectures with a more seminar-like format, active student participation is essential for a good grade. This course will be offered once a year with an enrollment of 15.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2002

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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