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Aligning public health courses with community needs

Community course alignment is an initiative to help enhance student learning while supporting the needs of community organizations working towards health justice.

  • It is a core competency for students in MPH programs to be able “to identify individual, organization and community concerns, assets, resources, anddeficits for social and behavioral science interventions” (ASPPH, 2021)​.
  • By applying classroom lessons through hands-on learning opportunities with community partners, students gain the opportunity to engage with a wider range of community voices and community engagementtheories and methods to better prepare students to meet community public health needs (Levin et al, 2021).
  • Teaching in tandem with community organizations helps facilitate meaningful, sustainable academic-community partnerships (Zou et al., 2019)​.

Course matching is being piloted in Spring 2022 with a selection of community-based organizations (CBOs) that have an ongoing relationship with the school of public health. Future iterations of course matching will be open broadly to CBOs which are interested.

How SPH faculty can get involved Heading link

Course example: Community Organizing for Health (CHSC 584) Heading link

A group of SPH students learn about community organizing at a Chicago community site.

This course is taught by Jeni Hebert-Beirne, PhD, interim associate dean for community engagement, and Dolores Castañeda, research associate and PhD in Community Health Sciences student.  With a focus on community organizing for health, the instructors value real-life examples of community organizers who are engaged in public health and is always looking to integrate guest speakers. A regular assignment of the class is for students to interview a community organizer. Each semester, the instructor collaborates with an organization to create a project where students collect, analyze, and/or interpret data for use by community organizers.