A new class starting this spring at the University of Houston Honors College is bringing diverse perspectives together to create a new approach to solving the problem of asthma. The class, called Asthmatic Spaces: Houston, is using a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to problem-based studies.

"It’s about a process to think about the open-ended nature of research," said class director Daniel Price, associate professor with the UH Honors College. "You have to ask ‘what are the tools I can bring to bear on the problem, so that I can answer the question?’ not ‘how can I convince other people to accept my view of the world?’"

Price stated that what was once investigated as an individual health issue has become a political issue, included in global warming and environmental justice discussions. He says in his class students will develop a new understanding of asthma and its related issues by examining how different disciplines approach and define the problems to which it relates.

Asthmatic Spaces: Houston will partner not only with other colleges on campus, but with students from New York’s Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who are embarking on similar research endeavors.

Asthma was chosen as a subject to study because of air quality research already being done in Houston, in addition to the varied perspectives that have changed the way the condition is considered, according to the University’s news story about the class.

"We need to get people from the humanities, social sciences and hard sciences to talk to each other," Price said. "This class will mimic the diversity in skills that they’ll encounter in the real world, so they’ll be asked to look at their own problem-solving techniques. Some are very good filmmakers, so I’d expect them to convey their perspective through that medium. Others are very skilled in mathematics and can show how they create a model from their discipline, as will our engineering or biology students."

UH Professors from pharmacy, science, anthropology, health, politics, history, and medicine and society will contribute to the class. Students will have internship opportunities with the City of Houston mobile air quality lab and will create digital research projects that will be shared on a special Web site that will serve as a public service to those seeking information about asthma and its related issues.

Source: University of Houston News