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The Educated Citizen and Public Health

The Educated Citizen and Public Health movement aims to fulfill the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies' recommendation that "...all undergraduates should have access to education in public health" as "public health is an essential part of the training of citizens"1. The movement is a collaboration of arts and sciences and public health organizations, including the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research (APTR) and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH). Learn more at AAC&U's web site: http://www.aacu.org/public_health/index.cfm

Background

The Educated Citizen and Public Health movement encourages undergraduate public health core curricula as part of general education at four-year and two year colleges as well as the integration of public health throughout undergraduate education. The Educated Citizen and Public Health has been developed in conjunction with the LEAP initiative of AAC&U which aims to transform undergraduate education for the 21st century. Undergraduate public health with its emphasis on interdisciplinary education, a global perspective, community-based education and life-long learning is an excellent area of study for implementing the LEAP initiative.

Accomplishments

A Consensus Conference on Undergraduate Public Health Education was held in 2006, funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, bringing together arts & sciences, public health, and health professions' educators. Leaders of these groups agreed that undergraduate public health education should result in an educated citizenry prepared to address public health challenges ranging from AIDS to aging and avian flu to the costs of health care. Not only can undergraduate public health prepare students for professional education in public health and the clinical health professions, but the critical and analytical thinking that are part of public health education are excellent preparation for careers ranging from law to business to international affairs.

The Consensus Conference led to the APTR-AAC&U Faculty Development Program which conducted three Workshop/Institutes reaching more than 250 faculty from more than 60 institutions. A curriculum guide and recommendations for undergraduate public health education resulted from the Faculty Development Program. The recommendations include curriculum frameworks, learning outcomes and enduring understandings for Public Health 101, Epidemiology 101, and Global Health 101 as well as a framework for minors including core curricula, curricula built upon institutional strengths and experiential learning such as service-learning in public health.

The Committee on Affiliates of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and their Student Assembly have begun a "Connecting with the Colleges" initiative to bring public health professionals together with local colleges and universities to support the development of undergraduate public health education in the classroom and the community. An APHA policy resolution proposed by the Student Assembly seeks to encourage undergraduate public health at all colleges and universities.

The next phase will include a focus on community colleges and the development of public health as part of general education as well as associate degrees in areas of need such as environmental health and public health preparedness. The Education for Health framework designed as an educational underpinning for Healthy People 2020 includes a focus on undergraduate public health. The Educated Citizen and Public Health Movement has produced publications and press coverage. Key materials include those on the reverse side.

Next » : The "101" Approach to Undergraduate Public Health Education
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