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Systems Science in Public Health: Basic Modeling and Simulation Methods

East Baltimore
4th term
International Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Class Times:
  • Wednesday,  3:30 - 6:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Qingfeng Li

221.654.81 Systems Thinking in Public Health or 552.626.81 Systems Thinking: Concepts and Methods


Mathematical and computational modeling and simulation methods have helped transform many industries and fields such as manufacturing, transportation, communications, and finance and are increasingly being used in public health. As the use of such methods continues to grow, regardless of one’s eventual role in public health, familiarity with such approaches and methods will likely become more and more important in the future.

Introduces students to mathematical and computational modeling and simulation methods that can help public health decision makers better understand and improve various systems in public health. Addresses the basic concepts of mathematical and computational modeling and simulation. Covers probability theory, decision analysis, Markov models, compartment models, and systems dynamics models, as well as basics of economic and operational modeling. Introduces TreeAge, and VenSim software. Offers examples of public health systems including both communicable and non-communicable disease control programs (e.g., vaccines, medications, and non-pharmaceutical interventions), dietary and physical activity behaviors and interventions, and healthcare systems and healthcare policy.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Distinguish between the purpose, scope, conceptual differences, and assumptions of systems models
  2. Choose appropriate simulation tools for specific research questions
  3. Develop a basic system dynamics model to address public health issue/questions
  4. Use the information generated to communicate to stakeholders and inform policy and practice debates
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 20% Participation
  • 30% Written Assignment(s)
  • 20% Presentation(s)
  • 30% Final Project

Instructor Consent:

No consent required