School of Social and Political Science

What was Epidemiology?

14 - 17 June 2021
14:00 - 17:00




About this event

What was Epidemiology? New Perspectives on the History of an Undisciplined Field

This workshop’s overarching question is: What was Epidemiology? We will open a forum for creative explorations of a new historiography of epidemiology in the long twentieth century (1890 – 2010). Given our Covid present, the workshop’s question will prompt reflections on the value of this history within an ongoing pandemic.

The science of epidemiology has, as Nature underlined in a recent editorial, shaped the world’s responses to Covid. But the pandemic has also shown the field of epidemiology to have undergone substantial transformation over the last century. From early 2020, infectious disease modelling was charged with giving scientific justification to lockdowns and ‘stay at home orders’, while trusted assumptions about the preparedness of the West became dangerous fallacies. Dashboards enabled ‘nowcasting’ of the pandemic, and a new crowd of ‘armchair epidemiologists’ distributed their insights on social media. The techno-scientific dream of overcoming the crisis through vaccines is confounded by 'hesitancy’ and vaccine nationalism has left ideal conditions for viral mutation.

Our planned programme is available below, but you can access the full PDF programme on our website.