Professor Daniel Price of the University of Houston Honors College heads up a new collaborative and multi-disciplinary class called Asthmatic Spaces: Houston, which will help students develop a new understanding of asthma and its related issues by examining how different disciplines approach and define the problems.
“It’s new ways of talking between the disciplines,” Price said. “It’s about getting the humanities and the social sciences and the natural sciences talking to each other.”
Price says this new class is about the open-ended nature of research, and how varied perspectives can consider a common goal, like asthma.
“This class will mimic the diversity in skills that students will encounter in the real world, so they’ll be asked to look at their own problem-solving techniques. Some are very good filmmakers, so I’d expect them to convey their perspective through that medium. Others are very skilled in mathematics and can show how they create a model from their discipline, as will our engineering or biology students,” Price said.
Asthma was chosen as a subject to study because of air quality research already being done in Houston, and because of the varied perspectives that have changed the way we consider the condition. Price says what used to be investigated as an individual health issue has become a political issue, included in global warming and environmental justice discussions.
UH Professors from pharmacy, science, anthropology, health, politics, history and medicine and society will contribute to the class from their own research perspectives. Students will have internship opportunities with the City of Houston mobile air quality lab and will create digital research projects that will be shared on a special Web site that will serve as a public service to those seeking information about asthma and its related issues.
The class begins in the spring semester and will partner not only with other colleges on campus, but with students from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who are embarking on similar research endeavors.
“These ways of thinking of how we talk to each other is a really good way of thinking about education,” Price said. “Education should be learning how to talk to other people better.” Asthmatic Spaces: Houston is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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