Epidemiology: Measuring Health and Disease

Epidemiology: Measuring Health and Disease

Purpose: The purpose of this first homework assignment is to get you to think about how epidemiology (and public health) effects your everyday life. You will have a chance to consider how historical figures and events impact our world today and to consider what you hope to learn from taking this course.

Skills: This first homework assignment will provide an opportunity:

  • Identify the role of epidemiology in your everyday life
  • Identify and consider the role of epidemiology in health news
  • Consider key historical events and figures and how they impacted public health today
  • Consider global health priorities
  • Develop learning objectives for yourself for the semester

Instructions: The first homework assignment contains 5 questions, each worth the same amount. The first homework assignment is worth 5% of your overall course grade. Work individually! For this first assignment there are not necessarily any right or wrong answers (particularly for Questions 3-5), if you put in some thought to each question you will receive full credit.

Tools: To complete the first homework assignment you may use:

  • Any relevant textbooks or other lecture materials
  • Online resources
  1. Choose 2 of the historical figures or events below. In a sentence or two, provide the following information, 1) how each is important in the history of epidemiology and public health, and 2) for each indicate one way that you think the figure or event shapes public health today (5 points, 2.5 points per historical figure).

John Snow


Ignaz Semmelweis


1918 influenza pandemic


Edward Jenner


Florence Nightingale


  1. Public health and epidemiology often have limited funding and need to carefully set priorities for global health. Consider the list of global health threats identified by WHO we discussed in class and linked below. Identify which 2 of these threats you think are most important. In a couple of sentences provide 1) a rationale for your choice and 2) specify how you think epidemiology will contribute to addressing the threat based on what we have learned so far. (5 points, 2.5 points per threat).


Link to WHO list: https://www.who.int/emergencies/ten-threats-to-global-health-in-2019










  1. Think about your daily routine. Identify one aspect of your daily routine that you believe is influenced by epidemiology or public health. Briefly (2-3 sentences) summarize how you believe epidemiology/public health impacted this activity. (5 points)

Example: Every morning and evening I brush my teeth. Epidemiology studies have shown that tooth brushing is effective at preventing tooth decay. Studies have also shown that poor dental health can contribute to other health issues, such as cardiovascular disease.


















  1. Identify one news story from the last 6 months from any reputable source that you think has something to do with epidemiology/public health. Provide the link, the title of the story, and a brief (2-3 sentences) description of why you chose this story. (5 points)

















  1. Think about what you hope to get out of this course. Identify at least two things you are most excited to learn this semester. In a sentence or two, explain why these learning objectives are important to you. (5 points, 2.5 points per objective)


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