Stuttgart - University of Hohenheim, Germany

Is health nature or nurture? Bridging WHO recommendations with evidence based research in alcoholism, depression, and nutrition

when 12 September 2018 - 21 September 2018
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 4 EC
fee EUR 100

One of the oldest questions in the history of psychology but also natural sciences is: are we determined by nature or nurture? Especially in terms of health this has been one of the most exciting topics to deal with. In 2015, the largest meta-analysis for twin studies from the last 50 years asked exactly this question which traits are due to genetics and which to the environment1. One author concluded “Genetics contribute to all traits – the difference is by how much”2. These aspects become very interesting when focusing on mental, emotional and physical health. In this course we aim to answer the overarching question: which has a greater influence, nature or nurture?
Thus, we will focus on three important contributors to global burden of disease including depression, alcoholism and nutrition. WHO has identified strong links between depression and substance use disorders and diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. However: the opposite is also true, meaning that people with these other conditions have a higher risk of depression.
The students will be trained on the different subjects (alcoholism, depression, and nutrition) through lectures followed by in-depth discussion time with expert speakers. An interdisciplinary results and reflections course will accompany the students to combine knowledge from speakers (from different disciplines) throughout the course to combine the knowledge obtained to answer the main topic question: to what extent is health due to nature or nurture?

Course content:

Case studies – PhD students will present their current research
Simple laboratory work
Poster presentation
Podium discussion

Topics included:

What is alcoholism? Diagnosis, criteria, and types
Global and regional WHO perspectives on depression service delivery models and economic burden
Genetics of alcoholism and depression
To what extent is obesity due to nature or nurture? – An example from the Samoan population
HealthyLand- Linking Agriculture and Nutrition
Economics of obesity
And many more…

Course leader

Director of Humboldt reloaded: Prof. Dr. Martin Blum
Scientific director: Dr. Judith Lauvai

Target group

Undergraduate and graduate students from Agricultural-/Natural-/Economic-/Social- and Political Sciences

Course aim

We aim to provide bachelor students from different scientific backgrounds (natural, agricultural, economic, social and political) an interdisciplinary insight of health. Leading experts from various disciplines/universities (Yale University, UC Davis) and WHO experts discuss how health can be influenced by regulations and recommendations and to what extent are we as humans either more or less susceptible to certain diseases due to our own genetic profile.

Credits info

4 EC
Certificate of Attendance

We cannot guarantee that 4 ECTS will be recognized at other Universities

Fee info

EUR 100: The participation fee includes:

Academic sessions
Accommodation with breakfast (if needed)
Course excursions

Students are required to cover their own costs for public transport, food, private and touristic excursions, insurance and personal needs.


For International Students it is possible to receive a Scholarship for the participation fees