One Health: A Ten Thousand Year-Old View into the Future (edX)

One Health: A Ten Thousand Year-Old View into the Future (edX)
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One Health: A Ten Thousand Year-Old View into the Future (edX)
This course introduces the One Health paradigm with special emphasis on its application in the Circumpolar North. This holistic approach connects knowledge from natural and social sciences with traditional ways of knowing.

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The Arctic is experiencing environmental, social, and economic changes at an historically unprecedented rapid rate. This poses great challenges and simultaneously great opportunities to operationalize paradigm shifts supporting adaptation and resilience to these changes and which can then serve as a management model for similar changes that are occurring more gradually on a global scale. Addressing these issues effectively requires a novel approach, integrating knowledge across disciplines and cultures and recognizing the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health. This concept, always central to the Indigenous worldview, has recently been recognized in Western science as One Health.

One Health was originally developed as a means of understanding how zoonotic diseases, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, arise.

- Between 65% and 70% of emerging diseases in humans are of zoonotic origin. The way we impact our environment and how this influences human-animal interactions play a significant role in how these diseases develop and spread.

- Health is more than the absence of disease and can be defined as a state of well-being for individuals and their communities. Under this definition, well-being encompasses physical, mental, behavioral, cultural, and spiritual health.

- Applying this holistic approach to the One Health paradigm allows us to bring in expertise across natural and social sciences and connect Western science with traditional Indigenous ways of knowing.

- Such a broad and deep integration of knowledge and experience provides opportunities for understanding large issues like food safety, security, and sovereignty at their roots, and for engaging stakeholders to build effective solutions.

What you'll learn

Students who complete this course will:

- Have a solid understanding of the One Health concept

- Be able to identify how One Health can provide a lens through which to view a variety of challenging situations in human, animal, and environmental health

- Explain how the One Health approach can lead to sustainable solutions to critical issues facing communities in the Circumpolar North and beyond

Students will also:

- Explain the One Health paradigm, particularly as it relates to the Circumpolar North

- Describe the ten thousand-year history of One Health

- Explore interrelationships between human, animal, and environmental health

- Provide examples of challenges best addressed through the One Health paradigm

- Explain why previous approaches to problem-solving have failed

- Differentiate between reductionist and constructionist approaches to problem solving and explain why One Health utilizes the constructionist approach

- Describe how Traditional ways of knowing and Western science can be used together to understand and manage One Health issues


Week 1: 10,00 years of One Health:

One Health as an Indigenous worldview

How modern science has embraced the One Health paradigm

How does the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health relate to you in your life experiences?

A different lens through which to view the world

Week 2: Why animal health matters

The human animal relationship across time

Traditional vs urban vs rural perspectives

The value of a salmon

Defining and understanding zoonotic disease

Week 3: Human Health – More than just the absence of disease

Health concerns across the Circumpolar North (and beyond)

What is disease?

What is well being?

Physical health - the foundation

Mental and behavioral health - the drivers

Cultural health - the strength and protection

Spiritual health - the ties across space and time that hold things together

Week 4: Environmental health influences everyone

One World; One Health

Climate change and the resulting influences upon One Health

Why the Arctic is a canary in the coal mine

Changing tides; the oceans and their role in our health

What’s all this fuss about biodiversity?

Mitigation, adaptation, and resilience

Week 5: Beyond natural science: The role of social sciences and Traditional ways of knowing

Why social sciences?

What can 10,000 years of traditional knowledge lend to understanding modern problems?

How does integration of knowledge across traditional, cultural, natural and social science perspectives provide a more comprehensive picture of the problems and the solutions

Why has it been so rare to integrate across these perspectives?

How to build cross disciplinary teams that function.

Timely and relevant examples of One Health issues:

Week 6: Zoonotic diseases and COVID-19

What is a zoonotic disease?

Why are they a “One Health” issue?

Lessons not learned from SARS, MERS, and COVID-19

Other zoonotic disease threats and the role of One Health in understanding their risk and management

Week 7: Food Safety Security and Sovereignty

How are the terms safety, security and sovereignty connected in regards to food?

Rural and urban similarities and differences

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - a global threat

One Health and healthy stable food sources

Week 8: Operationalizing One Health

Constructionist vs reductionist approaches to problem solving

Stakeholders and their engagement

Bottom up versus top down

Community based management- the beginning and the end


No particular major or coursework required as this is an interdisciplinary course.

- This course is open to all students

- Those with a minimum of a High School science background will get more from the course offerings

- We are seeking participation from diverse groups of students as the more varied their background, the more widespread and interesting the discussions will be.

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