July 26, 2012
By Judy Haw
USC Dornsife’s Problem Without Passport BISC 428 (The Biology of Tropical Medicine) course enters its second year this summer at Oxford University amidst the excitement for London’s 2012 Olympic gala! We have 20 clever student participants each with an interest in a medical career.
As I packed my suitcase to travel back to Oxford, I was grateful for the sense of experience that I knew I would accompany me this time. Though the course was a success for it’s initial run, we were faced with a number of challenges. As I write, the course is smoothly entering its second week. Experience is indeed a good teacher!
One tremendous enhancement to the program this summer is the inclusion of Dr. Erin Quinn as the program faculty member. She is the Associate Dean at the Keck School of Medicine and her familiarity with medical practices and conditions has enabled us to engage in thoughtful discussions each afternoon reflecting on the topics covered in that morning’s lectures.
As last summer, the course revolves around daily lectures given by multiple physicians and professors associated with Oxford University. All are experts in their chosen filed of tropical medicine. Each has spent considerable time in various African or Asian countries where malnutrition and maladies such as malaria, cholera, HIV or tuberculosis are rampant. They invited us to mentally examine medical practices and problems outside of our “western-medicine” comfort zone. The reflections using these perspectives, are giving the students a greater sense of the vast scope of these dilemmas.
In the afternoons, our classroom expands to the city of Oxford and the 38 colleges that comprise the University. We have toured the Bodleian Library which houses books from as early as the 11th century. We have seen the home and now library of Dr. William Osler who was one of the four founding professor of Johns Hopkins Hospital. We have perused the collections on display in the Ashmolean, Natural History and Pitts River Museums. We have visited the favorite haunts of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Bill Clinton and USC’s own Pat Haden. The weekends allow us to further expand our studies geographically. This past weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon gave us a look at Shakespeare’s time period and we took in modern rendition of The Twelfth Night at the Royal Shakespeare Theater. This coming weekend looks to hold an Olympic experience for the students.
We have learned that not all of our stereotypes of British culture are accurate as the food has been smashing and the weather brilliant!
The following blogs written by the students are meant to share our experiences while giving the students an opportunity to reflect on a topic presented in our lectures.
Judy Haw is director of the USC Dornsife Supplemental Instruction program. She is also the associate director of the Freshman Science Honors Program.