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Epidemiology for the Canterbury Community with Head of School Rachel Stone

Kelly Slonaker

Members of the Canterbury Community,

I trust this note finds you and your families healthy and safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As we all continue to adjust to what is collectively asked of us to slow the spread of illness and create space and time for the medical and public health experts to lead us through this crisis, I am reaching out today to share one thread of my story and invite you to join me on a small adventure. 

Many of you know that prior to joining the Canterbury community, I held several positions over the course of two decades at a boarding school in New Jersey. What is less known is that I also designed and taught a course entitled Epidemiology for juniors and seniors, one of the most treasured aspects of my professional journey. Why? Having majored in biology as an undergraduate and contemplated medical school, I decided to pursue graduate work in public health after teaching for five years. At Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, I earned an MPH in the Sociomedical Sciences track with a focus on Health Promotion/Disease Prevention. My favorite course, without question, was Epidemiology. To be sure, that extraordinary year of learning (1999-2000) feels like a lifetime ago.

After several years of full-time administrative responsibilities, I was eager to weave teaching back into my work. I enrolled in a one-week course at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta and launched the new course that fall. Fast forward to 2020, and it is suddenly near impossible to turn on the news without hearing from an epidemiologist or trying to interpret an epi curve. And so, though I may be rusty—and I am most certainly an educator not an epidemiologist!—I would love to share a few of the most relevant (and perhaps most favorite) lessons from the Epidemiology course I taught before coming to Canterbury.

If you are interested in taking this journey with me—whether you are a current or prospective student/parent, faculty/staff member, trustee, or Canterbury graduate—please register here to access the Zoom sessions (space is limited). While I can't promise leading expertise in COVID-19, I can offer some foundational elements of epidemiology and public health that may serve as a resource during this unprecedented time. Please find a tentative schedule included below.

Gratefully and in health,

Alternate text

Rachel Stone

Head of School




All sessions will be held at 4:30 pm EST (schedule subject to change)

April 28: The Discipline of Epidemiology

- Enduring Epidemiological Understandings
Descriptive Epidemiology: Observations, Patterns & Hypotheses (Anecdote → Science)
- John Snow: The Father of Epidemiology

May 5: Public Health Framework

- Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Prevention
- Public Health Infrastructure & Surveillance
- Determinants of Health

May 12: Study Designs

Analytic Epidemiology: Study Designs, Data Collection & Outcomes
- Association vs. Causation; Causal Criteria
- Randomized Control Trials
- Ethics in Public Health

May 19: Magnitude & Points of Intersection

- Public Health as "16-Dimensional Chess"
- The Levels of Magnitude of September 11, 2001 & of COVID-19

Register Here