Bats, Ducks, and Pandemics: An Introduction to One Health Policy


Laura Kahn

  • Research Health Policy Scholar

One Health is the concept that human, animal, and environmental/ecosystem health are linked. The concept provides a useful framework for examining complex health issues such as food safety and security, emerging and vector-borne diseases, and antimicrobial resistance. It can be used to analyze government policies to determine if they are effective in improving health and well-being.


Agriculture is the foundation of civilization. Surplus food enabled the growth of cities; cities led to nations, and nations discovered the science and technology that allowed populations to grow. But agriculture comes with costs including environmental and ecosystem destruction and the emergence of zoonotic diseases. Antibiotics are the foundation of modern medicine. But antibiotics have come with costs too, including antimicrobial resistance and potentially harmful changes to human and animal microbiomes.

This interdisciplinary course will cover diverse subjects such as basic epidemiology, public health, public policy, basic microbiology, food safety, and security, zoonotic diseases, sanitation and hygiene, antimicrobial resistance, environmental and ecosystem health, and the national and international organizations that oversee health, agriculture, and the environment. Disease outbreaks including Influenza, Q fever, and Ebola will be discussed. While the course was developed and recorded before the COVID-19 pandemic, the concepts learned very much apply to it. This course emphasizes holistic, not siloed, approaches to health, and disease.

What Learners Say

"Absolutely wonderful and marvelous. Prof. Kahn deserved the standing ovation. Great task simplified in a great possible manner. I learned a lot and desire to continue this subject as passion! Thanks Coursera for bringing this course to us. Keep it up!!!"

"Loved this course. It brought all the aspects of a healthy globe together, research, policy, health and environmental fields along with social communication. Laura's lectures were great, and the material fascinating. I appreciated the extensive selection of readings for the course, and the update to include Covid-19."

"This course is packed with great information, wonderful resources, and terrific video lectures. I loved that the vast majority of the videos had knowledge checks throughout them. This is a thought-provoking course everyone in medicine (animal, human, plant), public health, and government should take."