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Problem Solving in Public Health

Course Status

Summer Term
Academic Year
2023 - 2024
Instruction Method
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed
Yes, with instructor consent
Available to Undergraduate
Grading Restriction
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor(s)
Contact Name
Daniel Barnett
Contact Email
Frequency Schedule
Every Year
Uses divergent public health issues to illustrate a systematic problem solving process for use in addressing public health problems. Includes defining the problem, measuring its magnitude, understanding the key determinants, developing a conceptual framework of the relationships between the key determinants, identifying and developing intervention and prevention strategies (either interventions or policies), setting priorities among intervention options, understanding barriers to implementation and evaluation, and developing an effective communication strategy. Consists of lectures, discussions, small-group exercises, a group project, and individual assignments.
Learning Objectives
Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  1. Analyze a public health problem and evaluate intervention/policy alternatives using the problem-solving methodology
  2. Compare and contrast the utility of the methodology to solve public health problems that emerge at different periods in the life cycle and in different cultures and health systems
  3. Research a specific public health problem, prepare a written report, and present their recommendations to the class following the problem-solving methodology
  4. Recognize and discuss the complexity of policy development, including the politics of public health issues, the roles of interest groups and stakeholders, and the laws and social values that must be woven into successful policies
  5. Integrate human rights and ethical principles into the analysis of public health problems and recommended strategies
  6. Recognize the critical role of communication and collaboration in public health practice
  7. Conduct problem solving activities that model the methods of public health agencies
  8. Demonstrate critical and analytical thinking by submitting two individually prepared products (a self-assessment of the process & a critical analysis of the application of the problem-solving methodology to a public health problem)
Methods of Assessment
This course is evaluated as follows:
  • 10% Participation
  • 10% Reflection
  • 20% Group Work
  • 20% Group Presentation
  • 40% Final Paper
Enrollment Restriction
Restricted to part-time MPH students and Training Certificate students