Bridging the Distance Between Us: A Practical, Multidisciplinary Introduction to Public Health and Health Disparities


INSTRUCTOR: Melissa Ward-Peterson


SCHEDULE: Wednesday 4:30PM – 7:00PM

Course Description

This course is designed for students with a general interest in social justice, as well as those pursuing careers in public health, public policy, public service, medicine, nursing, and other health professions. The course will begin by examining the foundations of public health, including policy, epidemiology, and a brief introduction to biostatistics. Attention will then shift to discussions of the various influences on public health, including social determinants (such as race and socioeconomic status), the environment, and religious beliefs. Next, the class will examine the ways in which public health is experienced, and how those experiences are expressed through literature, film, and music. The course will conclude by exploring ways to make public health happen, including sessions on research ethics, health communication strategies, advocacy, program implementation, and sustainability. Topical lectures on issues such as women’s health, adolescent health, chronic and infectious diseases, global health, and disaster preparedness will be integrated throughout the course, and students will be required to complete a service learning project in the local community.

Students will learn to:

  • Describe the foundational elements of public health
  • Discuss the multidimensional social determinants of health
  • Identify major local, national, and international challenges related to health disparities
  • Describe the interdisciplinary stakeholders involved in the social determinants of health
  • Apply team collaboration skills to address a health disparities problem
  • Implement a local public health project to address health disparities from the perspective of a public health discipline