Agents of Bioterrorism: Curriculum and Pedagogy in an Online Masters Course

TitleAgents of Bioterrorism: Curriculum and Pedagogy in an Online Masters Course
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsGray J.P, Page E.
JournalJ Tox EdJ Tox Ed

The Agents of Bioterrorism course (BSBD 640, University of Maryland University College) is agraduate level course created in response to an elevated need for scientists working in the field ofmedical countermeasures to biological and chemical weapons in the years following 9/11.Students read and evaluate assigned current primary literature articles investigating medicalcountermeasures at each stage of development. In addition, students learn concepts of riskassessment, comparing and ranking several agents of terror. Student learning is assessed througha variety of assignments. A term paper focuses on a lesser known weapon of terror, withstudents recommending the best countermeasure in development and delivering a riskassessment comparing their agent to other major weapons of terror discussed throughout thesemester. Similarly, a group project on an assigned major weapon of terror (anthrax, plague,smallpox, vesicants, or nerve agent) focuses more heavily on evaluating primary literature andconcluding which countermeasure(s) in development are the best. Students complete the coursewith a fundamental understanding of the mechanism of action of many biological agents,information literacy for the medical literature available at PubMed and the primary scientificliterature, and a basic understanding of the role of the government in biodefense research. Thispaper describes the pedagogical approaches used to teach this course and how they might beadopted for other courses.