Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems

Short courses foster data skills for societal challenges

Online courses upskill professionals to apply data to problems affecting the health of populations and the planet.

Graduates can learn to use One Health concepts and data skills to tackle contemporary challenges, with help from a series of new short courses.

Professionals can develop their skillset to help address major societal and health problems, through applying good decision-making abilities to enable change.

Three credit-bearing short courses, led by the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems, seek to enable participants to apply data skills to global threats linked to pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change.

Students will learn to distinguish reputable evidence, cut through misinformation and develop critical thinking skills, to focus on developing robust solutions for tangible problems.

Limited funding is available to support students living in Scotland to study these courses.

Supporting planetary health

A credit-bearing short course on Understanding Planetary Health and Data aims to introduce students to key concepts and themes linked to the health of the natural systems that support human life on earth.

These include public health, climate change, food and nutrition security, conflict, and sustainable futures.

Students in the five-week course will be invited to assess and debate key topics through use of large data sets derived from UN, WHO and World Bank repositories.

Participants will be introduced to tools and methods of data gathering for evidence-based decision-making in this field.  

The planet is facing complex challenges, including climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity. Understanding the implications of these issues, as well as their potential solutions, requires data-driven information. This course will teach learners how to consider the data implications of key concepts in planetary health.

Dr Rowan JacksonCourse Organiser, Understanding Planetary Health and Data

Informing policymaking

A separate credit-bearing short course, Making Science Relevant to Policy and Decision Making, will provide a practical guide to implementing policy-led science for decision-making.

Participants will examine the benefits and potential drawbacks of following such an approach in the public, private and charitable sectors.

This course, which takes five weeks to complete, places an emphasis on translating policy aims into tractable scientific questions.

Decision-making requires a robust scientific evidence base, and our course aims to enable scientists to produce outputs which can address policy questions.

Katie AdamCourse Organiser, Making Science Relevant to Policy and Decision Making

Nutrition and health

Students undertaking a credit-bearing short course in Foundations of Nutritional Epidemiology will learn nutrition and diet measurement, epidemiologic methods, exploring data, interpreting statistics, and understanding scientific literature on diet, nutrition, and health.

Students will gain an understanding of how findings from nutritional epidemiology are relevant to health and social care, and an understanding of the causes and prevention of diet-related health problems at the population level.

Poor quality diets are responsible for one out of five adult deaths and about one in two child deaths every year around the world. Nutritional epidemiology allows us to understand the nutritional causes of disease and promote disease prevention through diet.

Dr Amelia FinaretCourse Organiser, Foundations of Nutritional Epidemiology

Students in all three courses, available in early 2024, will take part in global classroom sessions and independent learning, with assessment via regular coursework.

The courses can each be taken as a standalone offering or as a contribution towards some masters programmes. The courses are offered in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh’s data science initiative, the Bayes Centre.

Related links

Postgraduate short courses

Data upskilling short courses, including funding information