Why Students Should Think Critically About Environmental Science and Epidemiology

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The COVID-19 crisis has forged international and national inequalities, viral transformations, a transformation of travel, vaccination, non-vaccination, use of masks, refusal of masks, a departure from masks, and now a back to crowded life. It’s time to think about our future: from top to bottom, from young to old.

Such moments of reflection often force us to reflect on the implications for learning. We can’t help it. We are educators.

COVID-19 and its associated upheavals have shed light on how science works, which requires openness and involves discovery, theorizing, analysis, failure and success – not necessarily in that order – in a process which can be circular, teleological, parallel, intersecting, logical and contradictory. For those who wish to learn, the facts are obvious.

Despite the horrors caused by the virus, the desires of governments and the media for immediate and definitive explanations and solutions, and the big pharmaceutical companies faced with the prospect of taxpayer-funded academic research they can put on the table. market, it is potentially a good time to learn about how knowledge is created.

Far from gene sequencing and clinical trials, the public suddenly receives routine information about the epidemiology. Always crucial to understanding, treating and preventing disease, sociologists and statisticians passionate about public health have often been the poor cousins ​​of great science and medicine. But now the information they provide on who / what / when / where / how the disease is daily news and advice.

Epidemiology is typically a graduate degree in the United States, although some topics may be covered at the undergraduate level. What might it mean to incorporate some of the basics into the school curriculum?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have their own heavy self-study manualk. We would like its principles to become more central at various levels of education, starting with secondary school. It may seem very difficult for everyone involved.

Corn school epidemiology classs already exist in parts of the country, and academics hope to develop such education. So far it seems that this could be a useful introduction for students to critically reflect on the intersection and divergence of science, health and society. This inevitably leads our minds to experiments with another heavily applied area of ​​knowledge: environmental studies.

Great anxiety is expressed about schoolchildren studying the environment. Some critics view the field as propaganda, a form of brainwashing designed to turn vulnerable minor accusations into motivated activists blinded by a mixture of hopelessness and hope that violates basic principles of scientific research.

We are therefore warned that “the errors of green education emanate from the fear of the left that fossil fuel companies and capitalism will ruin the planet”, resulting in the equivalent of eugenics and free-run smart design. Kindergarten to Grade 12. This is ridiculed as “science betrayed”. He’s also believed to be unpopular with worried parents.

The the research also does not support claimr. Climate science is widely taught in schools across the country, and there is ample evidence of careful adherence to the current state of knowledge and minimal evidence of parental opposition.

Lawyers who can equip students with the truth about our environmental crisis abound. The North American Association for Environmental Education is a crucial source for teachers, backed by “those dangerous radicals from Wells Fargo and Walt Disney.” The Environmental Protection Agency (created with enthusiasm by a Republican administration, let’s not forget) also provides valuable material, including lesson plans.

Controversies will continue over such initiatives. Interest groups opposed to environmental science are as fair as they are haves, as Michael E. Mann has been compelled to relate.

On the other side of the debate, rigorous educators are rightly anxious to improve their work. Key figures in environmental studies fear that the youth educatione in the fundamentals of the field has not gone far enough and requires more rigorous design, implementation and evaluation.

The direction of the story is clear and she encouraged us to call for the integration of epidemiology into the curriculum.

Given that young people have suffered so much from the distress caused by Covid and have had their education imbalanced, would not this be the time to empower them to better understand how the disease is spread and is contained, and how public health can be sustained and improved through the valuable work of caregivers, nurses, doctors, cleaners, clerks, researchers and pharmacists?

Epidemiology in high school can also be linked to critical environmental issues, as the transfer of pathogens between species is at extraordinary levels, along with industrialized meat consumption.

Just as school children reacted vehemently to the emerging truth about pollution in the early 1970s (we were there), a new educational push towards epidemiology can help them see how science and society intersect.


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