In this Q&A, Karlijn Hofstraat and Danny de Vries tell us about their “SPECIAL-SOC AMR” curriculum, a fantastic learning resource for all social scientists interested in antimicrobial resistance.

Q: The SPECIAL-SOC AMR Curriculum was developed under the Sonar-Global Network. Can you tell us more about the network?

A: The Sonar-Global network aims to mobilise the social sciences against infectious threats (pandemic preparedness, antimicrobial resistance/AMR, vaccine hesitancy) by addressing social, political, economic, and geographic contexts, and enhancing international interdisciplinary collaboration.

The European-commission funded project is split up into seven work packages, one of which focusses on capacity building in relation to AMR and epidemics. As part of this work, we are developing curricula for both social scientists, and non-social scientists, on the social dimensions of AMR.

Q: Who is the audience for the Special-Soc AMR curriculum?

The SPECIAL-SOC AMR  training curriculum is intended to be an open-source resource for trainers who aim to provide a high-level training on the relevance of social sciences in AMR to social science scholars or professionals. It is presumed that participants of the training are interested in integrating knowledge on AMR in their professional or academic practice. With the curriculum documents, an experienced trainer or team of interdisciplinary teachers, will be able to organise a training.

Q: What is the shape of the SPECIAL-SOC AMR curriculum?

A: The training consists out of a set of modules that total five days of training. The training modules are arranged from a micro to a macro level, covering dimensions such as microbes and resistance, people and publics, systems and environment, institutions and policies and transformations. Because interdisciplinarity is a key skill needed to work in the field of AMR, One Health is used as an integrative analytical framework throughout the curriculum. By going through these levels and dimensions we aim to bring forward:

  • The basic biomedical and public health aspects of AMR
  • The social, economic, and political dimensions of AMR
  • The different contributions various social science disciplines make to AMR (e.g. sociology, anthropology, history, political science, economics, and geography)
  • The integration and application of different social science contributions to the design, implementation, and/or evaluation of interventions in an interdisciplinary manner
  • The development of ideas and plans for future social science work in AMR

Q: This sounds so brilliant for social scientists interested in AMR. What about non-social scientists wanting to learn about AMR from a social science perspective?

A: So far, this curriculum for social scientists (SPECIAL SOC AMR) is finished and ready to be used. But – we are already developing our next curriculum (OPERATE SOC AMR), which provides an interdisciplinary take on the social dimensions of AMR in practice. You can expect to see this out by the end of this year.

Q: AMR is an enormous topic area, reflected in the range of social science studies on the topic which you have managed to cover very well in this curriculum. How did you go about developing the curriculum?

A: The curriculum was developed collaboratively under the umbrella of Sonar-Global and under the production of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development (AIGHD). The outline of the curriculum has evolved through two separate individual consultations with members of the Scientific Advisory committee at the end of 2019. A subsequent invited expert consultation was held in Amsterdam to finalize the structure of the curriculum and brainstorm ideas for each independent module. After the expert consultation, finalisation of each module occurred remotely under guidance of the lead authors Daniel de Vries, Karlijn Hofstraat, Stephanie Begemann, Clare Chandler, Nicolas Fortané, Helen Lambert, Louise Munkholm, Carla Rodrigues, and Constance Schultz.

Q: That sounds quite the process! Next step is to see people using it. Have you had feedback yet?

A: Yes! These quotes of authors Louise Munkholm and Nicolas Fortané illustrate why they believe the SPECIAL SOC AMR curriculum is valuable and needed:

Louise Munkholm: “I think that there is a gap in term of training: if there are already some social scientists who are working on AMR, there is no curriculum specifically oriented on Social sciences and AMR. Such curriculum is necessary to boost the Social Sciences and multi-disciplinary research on AMR and to train a new generation of social scientists specialized on this important and growing public health problem that is AMR.”

Nicolas Fortané: “There are not that many social scientists yet that conduct research on AMR – and the aim of the Sonar-Global Special-Soc curriculum is to prepare social scientists for taking this step. By providing the course participants with relevant and necessary background knowledge as well as tools for conducting social science research on AMR, it will hopefully prepare and inspire more social scientists to go out and conduct research on AMR.”

Q: How can people get in touch with you if they want to find out more?

A: If people are looking for ways to implement it at your institution, please do not hesitate to contact us (! The curriculum is downloadable for free at the sonar-global website (after registration).