Centre for Global Health Policy

Global Health and the Confluence of Science, Technology and Security: COVID-19 and Beyond

Interdisciplinary global health security workshop at Sussex

This in-person, one day interdisciplinary workshop will be held at the University of Sussex from the 10th to the 11th of May 2023. It is organised by Dr Christopher Long and is funded and supported by the Leverhulme Trust, the BISA Global Health Working Group and the University of Sussex’s Centre for Global Health Policy.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the political value and power of a wide range of technologies to help us understand and respond to global health threats and infectious disease outbreaks. These technologies have influenced a range of (often failing) political, security and health policies and practices. This includes biotechnology in the development of vaccines, therapeutics and the rapid sharing of genetic sequence data to support disease surveillance. Big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning within digital technologies has supported testing, contact tracing, quarantine, clinical management and health care programmes. Algorithms have also been used to carry out screening, tracking and to predict current and future patients and the transmission dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 to guide border checks and surveillance. The effect of the climate on the spread of COVID-19 has also been incorporated into political decision making through algorithms. Digital information, tracking the spread and global disease burden of COVID-19 has been visualised in innovative ways including in data dashboards such as that run by Johns Hopkins University and HealthMap. The political response to this pandemic has also highlighted the value of more traditional public health technologies such as masks and social distancing in efforts to slow down the spread of this disease.

This confluence of events demonstrates the now indispensable role that technology plays in political efforts to address disease outbreaks and global health threats. They also inextricably bring together the areas of global health and science, technology and security studies in novel ways that now demand investigation. This workshop will examine the new political configurations and intersections that have arisen in these three areas and their significance for the COVID-19 pandemic and global health more widely.

In order to do this, researchers working at the intersection of global health and science, technology and security studies will be brought together in this workshop to not only unpack the empirical implications that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought but also develop new theoretical approaches and methodologies that aid the study of political issues that cut across these three areas.

Programme and Participants.