This course explains the history of the rise of the modern public health system. Students will consider how the growth of scientific knowledge and the acceptance of disease control as a public responsibility has shaped the practice of public health today. Foundations of public health will be discussed in relationship to other related systems, including international systems. Finally, students will explore the sudden and urgent attention to public health due to the COVID pandemic and the impact on the future of the public health system.
Only about 20% of a person's health is attributable to interactions with the health care delivery system. This course will unpack the complex factors that impact health, including the environment, economy, biology, genetics, ecologic interdependencies, globalization, policies, social interactions, and behavioral and psychological factors. The evidence base for these so-called "determinants of health" will be compared and the impact of disparities between communities will be discussed. Students will consider whether public collaborations with the health care sector can improve determinants of health, or if systemic inequities are so entrenched that a more accurate term would be "determinants of mortality."
This course introduces students to the core functions of practice of public health. In a variety of contexts, public health professionals follow a prescribed process to advance health goals. They start with a needs assessment, followed by design and implementation of an evidence-based intervention. The results of the intervention are evaluated to inform action, which may include modifying the intervention in pursuit of more impact or leveraging the results to advocate for policy change. Every step of this process requires public health practitioners to apply evidence-based approaches and best practices. This course will equip students to develop a public health program, from conceptualization to implementation to recommendations for future action. A key focus of this course is public policy setting.
Valid evidence is the cornerstone to advancing public health. This course is focused on the core scientific disciplines - biostatistics and epidemiology - used to produce evidence for public health policies and programs. Specifically, this course uses studies with different research designs to illustrate principles such as data source integrity, descriptive and inferential statistics, data visualization, bias, and causal inference. At the completion of this course, students will be able to recommend an appropriate study design for a given research question and articulate the generalizability of the results.