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Public Health Advocacy Consensus Task Force (PH-ACT)

Latest News

Town Hall at 2024 Annual ASPPH Meeting

On March 21, 2024, we hosted "Trailblazing Together: Building Impactful Advocacy Instruction for the 21st Century," a Town Hall-style session that served as the kickoff for the PH-ACT.

During the meeting, our panelists discussed best practices in preparing the next generation of public health professionals to engage with advocacy.

Problem

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for the public health workforce, at all levels, to be skilled at engaging with policymakers, the public, and the media to advance evidence-based policy solutions.  

Although all public health schools and programs are required to teach MPH students how to advocate for policy change as part of their accreditation requirements, evidence shows that public health professionals may still be underprepared to engage in advocacy.   

Recent studies show that nearly half of public health department executives desire more training on how to prioritize and influence policies that affect the health of communities. Additionally, less than a third of non-profits, many of which employ public health graduates, report conducting advocacy activities that could improve health policy outcomes. Those that do emphasize the importance of having someone on staff with advocacy knowledge and/or experience.  

A recent study analyzing current advocacy courses shows that public health schools and programs most often incorporate advocacy content into survey courses which limits the number and depth of advocacy skills and content covered. Further, fewer than half of advocacy courses taught provide skills or content instruction on topics such as coalition building, community organizing, media advocacy, policy communication, and lobbying – skills often used in policy change advocacy campaigns. Lastly, the article suggests that the field lacks consensus on the definition of public health advocacy and the essential skills needed by the workforce to operationalize it. This alone may be key to why our current advocacy instructional model is falling short of the outcomes we all desire. Working together, we can craft an improved Advocacy 2.0 instructional model and the guidance for schools and programs on how to best implement it. 

Solution

The Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy and the de Beaumont Foundation, in partnership with other national and state public health organizations are launching the Public Health Advocacy Consensus Task Force (PH-ACT), which will: 

  1. Gain consensus on the definition of public health advocacy;
  2. Identify the essential advocacy skills needed to operationalize it; and
  3. Draft guidance that could help schools and programs. 

Next Steps

To build a stronger, more effective, advocacy competency training, we will be working with experts from across the country who are skilled in advocacy teaching and the practice to improve public health policy at the federal, state, and local levels. We will plan and execute a rigorous consensus-building process to define public health advocacy and essential skills to operationalize it. This activity will be guided by an Advisory Committee comprised of public health and advocacy educators, experts, and practitioners. We will confirm findings through iterative surveys to achieve field consensus.

Get Involved

We need your input on this work in the coming months. Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Help us design the future of public health advocacy training.
    We will be contacting individuals to participate in town halls, focus groups, and surveys in the coming months. 
  • Contact us if you're interested in hosting your own Town Hall.
    Reach out to Glenn Schneider, Project Lead, for information on the PH-ACT to share within your academic community. 

Advisory Committee

The PH-ACT Advisory Committee is comprised of experts from across the country who are skilled in advocacy teaching and/or the practice of improving public health policy at the federal, state, and local levels. 

  • Elaine Auld
    Chief Executive Officer (retired), Society for Public Health Education
  • Ron Bialek
    President, Public Health Foundation
  • Brian Castrucci*
    President & Chief Executive Officer, de Beaumont Foundation
  • Sandro Galea
    Dean and Robert A. Knox Professor, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Sarah de Guia
    Chief Executive Officer, ChangeLab Solutions
  • Perry Halkitis
    Dean, School of Public Health, Rutgers University-New Brunswick
  • Leigh Haynes
    Director, Master of Public Health Program, Simmons University
  • Shelley Hearne*
    Director, Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • David Jernigan*
    Professor, Health Law, Policy & Management and Assistant Dean, Public Health Practice, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Laura Rasar King
    Executive Director, Council on Education for Public Health
  • Ellen MacKenzie
    Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Keshia Pollack Porter*
    Bloomberg Centennial Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Susan Pollan
    Public Affairs and Advocacy Associate Executive Director, American Public Health Association

Title and affiliations for identification purposes only.
* Indicates joint services on the Steering Committee.

Project Lead

Glenn E. Schneider

Director, Public Health Advocacy Consensus Task Force (PH-ACT) 
National Consensus on Advocacy Instruction

Senior Associate
Lerner Center for Public Health Advocacy
Department of Health Policy and Management

gschne10@jhu.edu | 443-812-6955