Epidemiology As A Liberal Art
by David W. Fraser
The New England Journal of Medicine
Epidemiology has features that resemble those of the traditional liberal arts. This makes it fit both for inclusion in an undergraduate curriculum and as an example in medical school of the continuing value of a liberal education. As a "low-technology" science, epidemiology is readily accessible to nonspecialists. Because it is useful for taking a first look at a new problem, it is applicable to a broad range of interesting phenomena. Furthermore, it emphasizes method rather than arcane knowledge and illustrates the approaches to problems and the kinds of thinking that a liberal education should cultivate: the scientific method, analogic thinking, deductive reasoning, problem solving within constraints, and concern for aesthetic values. (N Engl J Med 1987; 316:309-14).
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