Ontology of Public Health in University Curriculum: Exploring Basic Elements of an Interdisciplinary Field of Knowledge

Zahirul Islam


Public health has constituted itself as a distinct academic discipline. The present paper attempts to understand ontology of this discipline. A study has recently been carried out which concerns, first, conceptualization of ontology of public health, secondly, nature of public health, and thirdly, curriculum development. Ontology is a philosophical doctrine that refers to an understanding about the basic elements theorized about. As the paper unveils, the tenet of public health is that the health state is not a matter of ‘individual’ only; rather this is a question of the ‘collective’ too. Diverse aspects take forms of intellectual construction which are transformed into the subject of the discipline. They are categorized as worldview, theory, methodology, instrumentation, and application. The constructions are internalized in the discipline’s nature to be ‘epistemic’, ‘interdisciplinary’ and ‘componential’. In order to produce knowledge, the discipline involves an epistemic process consisting of priori and posteriori approaches. Public health, though the prevailing thoughts and practices are derived from biomedical paradigms, contains an interdisciplinary trait that draws from the fields of formal, organic, inorganic and social sciences. The discipline comes to be appeared as an integral whole being componential. The aforementioned categories of intellectual constructions are viewed as the basic elements of public health. Elements exist and operate in a center/periphery binary relationship. Center (worldview), while it holds the whole structure of the discipline together, limits the movement of rest elements and keeps them in the periphery. The paper concludes by pointing out few issues for developing curriculum for universities.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jei.v3i1.10478


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