Biosecurity Fundamentals: Pandemics Course

Summary

Despite the world having witnessed the severe humanitarian and economic repercussions of COVID-19, we remain ‘dangerously unprepared’ for future pandemics. At the same time, the rate of zoonotic pathogen spread is increasing and, with rapid advances in synthetic biology, there exists the possibility of far deadlier pandemics through unintentional pathogen release or deliberate actions.

Understanding and preparing for pandemics in the context of 21st century technological advancements is crucial for global security. The Biosecurity Fundamentals: Pandemics Course is a 12-week, part-time, virtual course focusing on the technical and policy efforts to prevent, detect and respond to catastrophic pandemics. It brings together:

  • An expert-curated curriculum covering topics from the history of pandemics to concrete policy and technical proposals to reduce pandemic risk.

  • A community of scientists, policymakers and expert facilitators keen to learn about, discuss and collaborate on proposals to build a more biosecure future.

  • Opportunities to pursue careers that enhance pandemic preparedness.

The course is free to participate in and entirely virtual.

Applications are now closed for the October 2023 Pandemics Course. Register interest to receive updates about the next round of the course (Spring 2024).

Course Details

  • The course is free to participate in.

  • The course is entirely virtual and can be scheduled around your existing commitments.

  • You will be onboarded into the Slack community in mid-late Sept 2023, with course sessions starting in the second week of October.

  • The course is 12 weeks, consisting of 8 weeks of taught content and 4 weeks to work on a project where you start to take your next steps towards contributing to pandemic prevention.

  • Participating takes about 5 hours / week, including 2-3 hours of preparatory work and 2 hours of small group discussions.

Why should you do the course?

Learn about key ideas with an expert-curated curriculum. It is difficult to know where to start when trying to learn about pandemic preparedness. The course will give you the structure and accountability you need to explore the key features of pandemics, concrete policy and technical proposals that have been put forward so far, and give you a conceptual map of the field.

Get access to knowledgeable facilitators. You will have access to a facilitator who has the knowledge needed to help you navigate the content and the social aspects of the field like what organisations exist, which researchers are doing what work, etc.

Learn alongside others via our Biosecurity Fundamentals community. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from other community members, and work with each other to explore the field. After the course, these might be people you form project collaborations with, or give each other accountability in applying for jobs in pandemic preparedness and preparing work samples, interviews, etc.

Get support to think through your potential next steps. We hope you’ll use the learning you gain to inform your next steps in pandemic preparedness, which could involve starting a project with people you meet on the course, applying for programmes and jobs, or doing further independent study. We also have a large network of organisations working in this field; We’ll share job opportunities directly with you, and share your information with their recruiters (with your permission).

Who should do the course?

We think this course will particularly be able to help you if:

  • You have a technical background (particularly in biosciences, engineering, materials or data science), and want to learn about how you can use your skills to contribute to pandemic risk mitigation.

  • You have policy experience, and are keen to apply your skills to reducing risk from pandemics.

  • You are early in your career or a student who is interested in exploring a future career in technical or policy areas to reduce risk from pandemics.

If none of these examples sound like you, we still encourage you to apply. There are many skills, backgrounds and approaches to pandemic risk reduction we haven’t captured here, and we will consider all applications accordingly.

Who is BlueDot Impact?

BlueDot Impact are a non-profit project that also run the AI Safety Fundamentals courses. Our AI Safety courses have had over 1,000 participants from world-leading organisations. We’re excited to draw on our experience in curriculum development, community creation and career guidance to help benefit the Biosecurity field as well.

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