• Length:
    8 Weeks
  • Effort:
    5–7 hours per week
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  • Course Type:
    Self-paced on your time


No particular major or coursework required as this is an interdisciplinary course.

  • This course is open to all students
  • Those with a minimum of a High School science background will get more from the course offerings
  • We are seeking participation from diverse groups of students as the more varied their background, the more widespread and interesting the discussions will be.

About this course

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Are you interested in understanding how global climate change will alter human society, animal health, and the environment? Are you curious about how these three things are interconnected?

This course focuses on what is happening right now in the Arctic, where climate change is accelerating twice as fast as the rest of the world. Understanding how Arctic ecosystems are adapting and collapsing can give us insight into future changes across the globe.

Finding deep solutions to new challenges caused by climate change can’t be accomplished using only traditional fields of science, such as medicine or biology.

Addressing these issues effectively requires a novel approach, one that integrates knowledge across disciplines and cultures and recognizes the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health. This concept, always central to the Indigenous worldview, has recently been recognized in Western science as One Health.

One Health was originally developed as a means of understanding how zoonotic diseases, such as the recent COVID-19 pandemic, arise.

  • Between 65% and 70% of emerging diseases in humans are of zoonotic origin. The way we impact our environment and how this influences human-animal interactions play a significant role in how these diseases develop and spread.
  • Health is more than the absence of disease and can be defined as a state of well-being for individuals and their communities. Under this definition, well-being encompasses physical, mental, behavioral, cultural, and spiritual health.
  • Applying this holistic approach to the One Health paradigm allows us to bring in expertise across natural and social sciences and connect Western science with traditional Indigenous ways of knowing.
  • Such a broad and deep integration of knowledge and experience provides opportunities for understanding large issues like food safety, security, and sovereignty at their roots, and for engaging stakeholders to build effective solutions.

What you'll learn

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Students who complete this course will:

  • Have a solid understanding of the One Health concept
  • Be able to identify how One Health can provide a lens through which to view a variety of challenging situations in human, animal, and environmental health
  • Explain how the One Health approach can lead to sustainable solutions to critical issues facing communities in the Circumpolar North and beyond

Students will also:

  • Explain the One Health paradigm, particularly as it relates to the Circumpolar North
  • Describe the ten thousand-year history of One Health
  • Explore interrelationships between human, animal, and environmental health
  • Provide examples of challenges best addressed through the One Health paradigm
  • Explain why previous approaches to problem-solving have failed
  • Differentiate between reductionist and constructionist approaches to problem solving and explain why One Health utilizes the constructionist approach
  • Describe how Traditional ways of knowing and Western science can be used together to understand and manage One Health issues

Week 1: 10,00 years of One Health:

  • One Health as an Indigenous worldview
  • How modern science has embraced the One Health paradigm
  • How does the interdependence of human, animal, and environmental health relate to you in your life experiences?
  • A different lens through which to view the world

Week 2: Why animal health matters

  • The human animal relationship across time
  • Traditional vs urban vs rural perspectives
  • The value of a salmon
  • Defining and understanding zoonotic disease

Week 3: Human Health – More than just the absence of disease

  • Health concerns across the Circumpolar North (and beyond)
  • What is disease?
  • What is well being?
  • Physical health - the foundation
  • Mental and behavioral health - the drivers
  • Cultural health - the strength and protection
  • Spiritual health - the ties across space and time that hold things together

Week 4: Environmental health influences everyone

  • One World; One Health
  • Climate change and the resulting influences upon One Health
  • Why the Arctic is a canary in the coal mine
  • Changing tides; the oceans and their role in our health
  • What’s all this fuss about biodiversity?
  • Mitigation, adaptation, and resilience

Week 5: Beyond natural science: The role of social sciences and Traditional ways of knowing

  • Why social sciences?
  • What can 10,000 years of traditional knowledge lend to understanding modern problems?
  • How does integration of knowledge across traditional, cultural, natural and social science perspectives provide a more comprehensive picture of the problems and the solutions
  • Why has it been so rare to integrate across these perspectives?
  • How to build cross disciplinary teams that function.

Timely and relevant examples of One Health issues:

Week 6: Zoonotic diseases and COVID-19

  • What is a zoonotic disease?
  • Why are they a “One Health” issue?
  • Lessons not learned from SARS, MERS, and COVID-19

Other zoonotic disease threats and the role of One Health in understanding their risk and management

Week 7: Food Safety Security and Sovereignty

  • How are the terms safety, security and sovereignty connected in regards to food?
  • Rural and urban similarities and differences
  • Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) - a global threat
  • One Health and healthy stable food sources

Week 8: Operationalizing One Health

  • Constructionist vs reductionist approaches to problem solving
  • Stakeholders and their engagement
  • Bottom up versus top down
  • Community based management- the beginning and the end

Meet your instructors

Arleigh Reynolds
Professor of Clinical Nutrition
University of Alaska Fairbanks Center for One Health
Tuula Hollmen
Research Associate Professor
College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks

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Learner testimonials

This course gave me a fresh perspective on animal and environmental health. What great insight into how the world around us affects us in ways we are just beginning to understand. - Emily Maxwell

This course was put together in a wonderful, concise, informative and structured manner to feature the many issues and stakeholders of One Health. -Chyna Y.

This course was excellent and is a great introduction to One Health. I feel inspired to move forward with my learning and would like to thank all the people involved in its creation and delivery. Although academic in reading content the course also had videos that were accessible and at times very moving. I have already recommended this course to others. -Patrick Green

I highly recommend this course and have been delighted to find how many connections outside the course I have been able to draw upon. -Previous student