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Genetics, Pandemics, and Society in Edinburgh

Faculty Leaders

Daniel Navon

Daniel Navon head shotDaniel Navon is an Associate Professor in the Sociology Department. He teaches classes in the sociology of science and medicine, historical sociology, and qualitative methods. His 2019 book, Mobilizing Mutations: Human Genetics in the Age of Patient Advocacy, explores how genetics is reshaping medical classification, patient care, and personal identity. Before going to Columbia University to pursue a PhD in Sociology, he was a philosophy major at the University of Edinburgh -- and he can't wait to introduce students to the beautiful "Athens of the North"!

Claire Edington

Claire Edington head shotClaire Edington is an Associate Professor in the History Department where she teaches classes on the history of public health, the history of modern Southeast Asia, and the colonial and postcolonial studies of science and medicine. Her research examines the way medical experts, state institutions and popular beliefs shaped the lives of marginalized people in Vietnam throughout the twentieth century. She received her PhD from the Departments of Sociomedical Sciences and History from Columbia University in 2013.


Why you should go

Edinburgh’s historic and continued importance as a site for scientific innovation makes it the ideal site to explore a range of themes in the history of public health and genetics. As a center of the European Enlightenment, it was home to important revolutions in scientific thought, medicine, and later, advances in tropical medicine and the development of global health as well as phrenology and genetics. This can be seen in the built environment—the links on Burgh Muir and Leith cover the ancient burying grounds of plague victims—as well as the National Museum of Scotland where one-time-local Dolly the cloned sheep is on display in the science and technology galleries. The University of Edinburgh itself has long been a major center for medical and bioscience research, as well as a world-leader in the social studies of science and medicine. Finally, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful, culturally rich cities in Europe.

Who should go

This Global Seminar will be valuable for sociology and history majors, as well as pre-med, bioscience, and global/public health majors and minors interested in understanding the broader social context of their chosen fields of study. Consult your academic advisor to determine officially how the courses will apply to your graduation requirements.

Information Sessions

  • Wednesday, Jan. 24, 12:00pm - 1:30pm 
  • Thursday, Feb. 15, 12:00pm - 1:30pm
  • Register here for the live Zoom link, and/or to get the post-session recording.
  • Information session presentation (pdf)

See the Info Session Calendar


Departure from U.S.: Sat., June 29, 2024
Arrival: Sun., June 30, 2024
Mandatory Orientation: Mon., July 1, 2024
First Day of Class: Tues., July 2, 2024
Last Day of Class: Fri., August 2, 2024
Departure for the U.S.
(or personal travel):
Sat., August 3, 2024

Flight Information

  • You will be responsible for purchasing your own airplane tickets, and your program coordinator will provide guidelines and resources during the pre-departure process to help you find an appropriate flight.
  • Do not purchase plane tickets until the program is confirmed. All approved applicants will be notified by e-mail when the program has reached minimum enrollment.

Global Seminar Fees

All fees subject to change. See for current tuition and campus-based fees.

  UCSD Other UC Non-UC
Program Cost:
(includes $500 administrative fee)
$6,313.11 $6,313.11 $6,313.11
Estimated Tuition and Campus-Based Fees:
$2,514.43 $2,564.43 $3,454.43
(not including airfare or personal expenses)
$8,827.54 $8,877.54 $9,767.54

Budget Sheet

Funding Options

See the funding options page to learn how financial aid and scholarships can help you pay for this program.

Local Site Visits

  • The University of Edinburgh’s Anatomical Museum.
    • We will visit primarily to view the collection of the Edinburgh Phrenological Society, arguably the world’s leading center for phrenological research — an important intellectual precursor to modern hereditarian and genetic thinking, as well as a cautionary tale about its pitfalls.
  • Darwin’s Edinburgh residence and the nearby site of the old Plinian Society .
    • This walking tour will also provide an orientation to the University of Edinburgh and the city’s historical Old Town.
  • The National Museum of Scotland
    • We will visit Dolly the (cloned) sheep, as well as several other relevant exhibits.
  • The University of Edinburgh’s MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine
    • The leading genomics center in Scotland, and the point of origin for the XYY story explored in detail in SOCI 138.
  • Mass burial sites or “plague pits” dating from 1645 in the Burgh Muir and on Leith Links

  • Ceilidh at Summerhall

  • Edinburgh University Library Special Collections – Records of the Royal Public Dispensary of Edinburgh

    • The first public dispensary in Scotland dating from 1776, the dispensary reflects the convergence of medical care and charity relief that characterized the rise of state medicine in Britain in the 19th century.

  • Royal Botanic Gardens
    • Founded as a physic garden to grow medicinal plants in 1670, the Royal Botanic Gardens – much like Kew Gardens outside London – played an important role in the growth of knowledge about tropical nature, botanic conservancy and tropical medicine.

Excursions are subject to change without prior notice. No refunds are possible.

Excursion to the Highlands

  • Highland Folk Museum
  • Culloden Battlefield
  • Loch Ness Boat Tour
  • Urquhart Castle
  • Glen Finnian Viaduct Walk


  • Single room in an off-campus apartment close to the University of Edinburgh and walking distance to the classroom
  • Shared kitchen and bathroom and internet access included
  • Linens provided. Students should plan to bring their own towels.
  • Cleaning service is not provided. Students will be fully responsible for keeping the space clean or will risk incurring additional charges for any negligence or damages.

Included Meals

  • Welcome lunch upon arrival
  • Welcome lunch during orientation
  • Farewell dinner

Classroom and Computer Access

  • Classroom space at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Venue on the University of Edinburgh campus
  • There is no computer lab available - plan to bring a laptop
  • The University of Edinburgh participates in the Eduroam network. Follow these instructions to set up your computer (scroll to the bottom of the page) for access while you are still at UCSD.
  • Wireless access may be intermittent due to local conditions. No refunds or price adjustments are possible.


  • Airport pick up at the beginning of the program; cash stipend equal to the cost of public transportation to the Edinburgh Airport at the end of the program
  • Transportation for all excursions that are not within walking distance


  • More information about how to obtain a local SIM card will be provided at the pre-departure orientation.
  • Students will be responsible to purchase their own calling time/minutes.

Insurance, Health, and Safety

  • Comprehensive insurance package with CISI
  • An in-depth orientation will be given on the morning after arrival, including health and safety procedures.
  • Program partner staff will be available by telephone after hours.
  • All students must register for UC travel insurance. This is free coverage, but registration is required prior to departure.