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Applying Systems Thinking to Obesity Prevention

Summer Institute
Health, Behavior and Society
Academic Year
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method
Synchronous Online
Start Date
Monday, June 13, 2022
End Date
Friday, June 17, 2022
Class Time(s)
M, Tu, W, Th, F, 8:30am - 12:20pm
Auditors Allowed
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor(s)
Contact Name
Anne Palmer
Contact Email
Frequency Schedule
Every Year
Despite decades of significant investments in obesity prevention efforts, little progress has been made to reverse the problem.
Introduces systems thinking as a heuristic tool for understanding complex problems. Explores various systems concepts such as leverage points, heterogeneity, complexity, adaptability, interdependence, and how those concepts have been applied in obesity and food system research. Addresses how systems research concepts and models can be used to communicate with public and private sector actors. Examines the differences between projects using systems thinking and those that do not. Prepares students to incorporate systems thinking in their public health career.
Learning Objectives
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Describe the origins of systems science, systems thinking, and systems approaches
  2. Identify characteristics of a system and major models (e.g. agent-based modeling, systems dynamics, social network) used to map variables related to obesity
  3. Explain the systems concepts, approaches and methods that are being used for obesity prevention and other public health issues
  4. Apply basic systems approaches to obesity development and prevention
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 10% Participation
  • 30% Reflection
  • 30% Quizzes
  • 30% Final Paper
Special Comments

This is the virtual/online section of a course also held onsite. You are responsible for the modality in which you register.