This course will examine the different ways of conceptualizing stress and related concepts,
such as anxiety, arousal, tension, burnout, and so forth, and how physical and psychological
health is affected. The coverage will focus on workplace or job-related stress, but also
extend to general life stresses. The emphasis will be on theoretical issues, mechanisms, and
assessment issues, instead of focusing on treatment per se. Consistent with the migrations
theme, handling stress will be considered in terms of our legacy of automatic physiological
and emotional reactions to physical danger, in the context of the more subtle stressors in
today’s world, and our using our cognitive resources for stress management.
Field WorkCountry: Belgium
Day: 1 - Antwerp - Thursday, 12 September
Stress as a physiological and psychological construct derives from many sources, some that can be handled within an individual’s range of coping skills, others that seem less amenable to an individual’s control. Although many sources seem to be similar around the world, other sources of stress vary from one location to another in the world. Healthcare, diseases, nutrition, environmental disasters, and related aspects of daily living vary, and often overwhelm an individual’s coping resources. The World Health Organization is a United Nations agency that monitors such conditions around the world, and provides a variety of services to offset health challenges and thereby enhance the quality of life. The specific problems WHO tries to address are many and difficult, but among other things WHO coordinates information sharing on health problems and possible solutions around the world. This field activity will be an exploration of the WHO facilities in Brussels, one of the major centers for world health interventions. The specific details of the tour are yet to be finalized, but it will involve travel from Antwerp to Brussels and back, and lunch at some point in Brussels. Academic Objectives: We will acquire some perspective on the variety of health-wellness challenges that exist in different regions of the world, what solutions are available through the WHO, how successful practices may vary cross-culturally, and what challenges still lay ahead in various locations. A visit to WHO early in the voyage should provide useful background for our later ports (e.g., to Africa in regard to AIDS/HIV research and treatment). The experience should also lead to understanding the differences between stress as an individual experience and as a social phenomenon, and likewise stress management.