28 November 2008

Bootcamp for Professionals: Quick Hard Knowledge for Ambitious Outsiders

Successful professionals can not afford to ever stop learning. When a professional attends a conference within his field, it is called continuing education. But what about those who need to significantly expand their knowledge into a new field, but cannot take the time to go back to school? For them, there are "boot camps." Intensive, week-long or longer courses designed for the outsider, by insiders. Here is a good example, H/T Brain Waves:
Neuroscience is increasingly relevant to a number of professions and academic disciplines beyond its traditional medical applications. Lawyers, educators, economists and businesspeople, as well as scholars of sociology, philosophy, applied ethics and policy, are incorporating the concepts and methods of neuroscience into their work. Indeed, for any field in which it is important to understand, predict or influence human behavior, neuroscience will play an increasing role. The Penn Neuroscience Boot Camp is designed to give participants a basic foundation in cognitive and affective neuroscience and to equip them to be informed consumers of neuroscience research.

...Through a combination of lectures, break-out groups, panel discussions and laboratory visits, participants will gain an understanding of the methods of neuroscience and key findings on the cognitive and social-emotional functions of the brain, lifespan development and disorders of brain function.

Each lecture will be followed by extensive Q&A. Break-out groups will allow participants to delve more deeply into topics of relevance to their fields. Laboratory visits will include trip to an MRI scanner, an EEG/ERP lab, an animal neurophysiology lab, and a transcranial magnetic stimulation lab. Participants will also have access to an extensive online library of copyrighted materials selected for relevance to the Boot Camp, including classic and review articles and textbook chapters in cognitive and affective neuroscience and the applications of neuroscience to diverse fields.

The Boot Camp faculty consists of leaders in the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience who are committed to the goal of educating non-neuroscientists. Several of our faculty have won awards for their teaching.

...The only prerequisites are a grasp of basic statistics and at least a dim recollection of high school biology and physics. (A short set of readings will be made available prior to the Boot Camp to remind you about the essentials.) _UPennNeuroscienceCamp
Roughly ten days of neuroscience for $3000. If you can get your employer to pay for it, fine, otherwise weigh the costs and benefits. Considering the generally abysmal coverage of scientific topics by "science journalists", it might be worthwhile for media outlets that cover science to sponsor one of their "science journalists" for this camp.

The concept is widely applicable across science, engineering, medicine, and other complex and somewhat insular fields which should be made more easily accessible to larger parts of the general public.

The internet contains huge numbers of free journal articles, textbooks, audio/video lectures, and other types of media access to otherwise esoteric fields of science, technology, and learning. But for some people, only the intensive face-to-face experience will serve.

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