This unit provides an introduction to the overall idea of studying the dynamics of infectious diseases, why it is useful to take a model-based approach, and what that means.


Note: For this and any future modules, you can do the videos and readings in any order. Usually, if there is a paper assigned, it is best to read it last since it often assumes knowledge of material covered in the videos and the reading.

Start by reading the 1st and 2nd chapters of IDEMAB.

Examples of model/systems thinking

This video provides a nice introduction to systems thinking, using the example of obesity.

A famous dynamical system model (not from the area of infectious diseases) is Schelling’s segregation model. In the following video, Scott Page explains and illustrates this model.

This video is part of a course called “Model Thinking”. It is hosted on Coursera and (last I checked), is available for free. I highly recommend the course.

Models in infectious disease epidemiology

This video is from a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) called “Epidemics”, developed by several infectious disease faculty at Penn State and offered through the MOOC provider Coursera.

Matt Ferrari, one of the course instructors, gives a brief discussion of infectious disease models.

A general note on videos: For most modules, I link to external videos that cover the topic in question. At times, there is overlap between the videos and reading. That’s good, hearing new concepts more than once, explained in slightly different ways, is a good thing. Sometimes, the videos will touch on topics or introduce terms that we have not yet covered in the course. In that case, either do a quick online search for the topic/term you are stumbling over, or just ignore those parts of the videos, and re-visit later once we covered the topics in question.