It’s been over a week now since we finished our last course at KI; this course was called “Science – Theory, Practice and Ethics.” Though it’s only been a few days, it feels like it’s been much longer because, as fourth-semester students, our daily lives have changed so dramatically. As Mauricio mentioned, since last Monday, my classmates and I have enrolled in our final semester “Degree Project in Public Health Sciences” and fully immersed ourselves in the world of thesis writing.
A much anticipated aspect of the course “Science – Theory, Practice and Ethics” was our reunion with the Health Economics, Policy, and Management track of the Public Health Sciences program after our early separation. As in the Introduction to Public Health Sciences course, we epidemiology track students found it incredibly enriching to have a course together with the students from the other track. After over a year apart, they brought not only their individual backgrounds and personalities to the table, but also the knowledge and skills they acquired during the last three semesters that are unique to their track.
Lasting a total of seven weeks, this course was one of the longest we’ve had at KI. However, for three of these weeks, we were able to work individually on various assignments, which allowed us to travel during the Christmas holiday if we so desired.
As the title “Science – Theory, Practice and Ethics” indicates, the course was divided into three main parts. Additionally, a few sessions dedicated to overarching themes were scheduled. The theory part was taught by a professor from Uppsala University and touched on important ideas about the philosophy of science. Our assignment for this part was to write a paper that critically reflected on the role of science in global knowledge production as well as employed basic theory of science concepts. After writing the first draft of these papers, we had a delightful small-group session with the professor to discuss them. My major criticism for this part of the course was that there was so little time dedicated to this topic, but there was so much other important material to cover. One of these subjects was ethics. The knowledge imparted through the lectures and exercises on ethics is of course essential to our future life as researchers. Throughout the course, we were able to complete assignments with our upcoming master’s thesis in mind. The assignment we completed for the ethics portion of the course, which involved reflecting critically on the ethical aspects of our own research, was probably particularly applicable to our actual thesis. We also completed an exercise on formulating an informed consent form. Finally, the aims of the practice portion of the course were to be able to conduct a systematic literature search as well as reflect upon and present scientific work in different formats and to different target groups. The deliverable for this part was a portfolio of assignments with various components. One of these components was making and presenting a poster on a critical literature search and review.
This course was ambitious in its aims because each of the three topics covered could have easily been its own course or even several courses. The important thing is that these critical topics will take root in our minds as researchers, and our knowledge of them will expand over time. Now that the fourth semester has started, we will already have a chance to put what we’ve learned into practice.
P.S. Now that we’re finished with our coursework, you can find a complete overview of my course posts here:
Recap of Semester 1: Introduction to Public Health Sciences
Recap of Semester 1: Methods for Studying the Distribution of Health
Recap of Semester 1: Basic Statistics and Computer Based Analysis
Recap of Semester 1: Qualitative Methods
Epidemiological Methods for Studying Determinants of Health
Advanced Statistics in Epidemiology
Collecting and Organizing Data
Methods for Outcome Evaluation of Public Health Interventions