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Public Health Sanitation

Course Number
5400 (Epidemiology)
Course Instructor(s)
James A Scott

Course Description

In the past, this course combined classroom sessions with a number of field visits to facilities that were representative of major themes in public health sanitation (e.g., drinking water, wastewater treatment, recycling, meat processing, etc.). Regrettably, the realities of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic have made accessing these field opportunities for class-scale field visits impossible for the time being. Until the situation changes, the course will be run as a classroom-based format based on readings and class discussion. Emphasis will be on sanitary innovations as a basis for the advancement of modern societies. Thematic areas will include:

  • water quality/ ground water/ water treatment
  • wastewater/ sewage treatment
  • solid waste/ pests
  • agricultural systems

Five sizeable readings will be assigned for course. Classes will be held in-person on Thursdays from 1-4 PM in a room TBA. It will be essential to complete the assigned reading prior to each class session. Each of the following readings will be discussed over 2 or 3 class sessions based on a schedule I will provide:

  • Solomon, S. 2011. Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization. New York: Harper Collins, 624 pp.
  • George, R. 2008. The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. New York: Henry Holt & Co., 320 pp.
  • Sinclair, U. 1906. The Jungle. New York: Doubleday, 435 pp.
  • Donnelly, JS. 2008. The Great Irish Potato Famine. Cheltenham, United Kingdom: History Press (Macmillan), 320 pp.
  • Kolbert, E. 2014. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. New York: Holt, 336 pp.

Several of the readings are available as audio books (e.g., Sinclair, Kolbert), but I would encourage the reading of paper (or digital) copies as it will be easier to take notes.

Each class will consist of a student-led discussion on the material of the readings. The student leading the discussion will be selected randomly, and they will be graded out of 20 marks for their ability to develop thoughtful questions and lead other students in an in-depth, scholarly discussion of the questions. Once all students have had an opportunity to lead one discussion, the rotation and randomized selection of leadership will begin again. Students not leading the discussion will be graded for their participation out of 5 marks. Grading rubrics will be provided for both activities. At the conclusion of the course, the number of marks for each student’s leadership and participation will be tallied separately, and calculated as a percentage of the total number of marks available to that student in each category. Leadership of discussions will account for 50 % of the overall grade in the course, and participation will account for 20 %. A final written examination worth 30 % of the final mark will be held during the final class session (Thursday December 1 from 1-4 PM). All reading materials covered in the course will be tested.

For this model to work effectively, I have put in place a minimum requirement of 4 students for the course to go ahead, and an enrolment cap at 12 students.

General Requirements