During last Fall 2008, I taught another semester of my Global Public Health MPH 6007 course (originally titled “Medical Anthropology & Public Health: A Global Perspective”) for graduate students in the Department of Public Health at ECU and at other universities in the state. Since I transitioned this course like my other graduate courses to online last year, I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching this course in a new format. Using the online blackboard tools and software, I have found that teaching this Global Public Health course a truly rewarding and necessary component of my teaching portfolio as well as a necessary learning component for students who are going into public health and/or medicine.
For those who are interested in this course, here are the major course objectives:
1. Identify and assess the major components of medical anthropology and public health as they relate to global public health issues;
2. Identify and discuss the major global public health concerns of specific populations from one country to another;
3. Apply principles and strategies derived from medical anthropology and public health toward planning, implementing and evaluating global public health intervention programs.
During the fall semester, students receive their lectures via podcast and webcam formats. The podcast and webcam lectures highlights the major key points from the designated readings from each week. Students also receive a set of discussion board questions each week along with the opportunity to participate in our weekly, topic oriented chat sessions usually in the early evening. If students are not able to attend, then they can read the recordings of the chat session later in the week. The advantages of this online technology allows many students to engage in all types of interaction whether in the structured format of the discussion board session or the free-flowing, semi-structured format of the chat room sessions. In either case, students truly get into the specific global public health issue of the week. In addition, each semester I include video links to short documentaries in which the student can download and view. These short documentaries are on specific global public health issues from countries all over the world.
Along with the weekly activities, students are also required to complete a fieldwork project or a proposed fieldwork project. I believe that these fieldwork projects showcases the cultural health, public health and global perspective of this course. Students investigate, examine and solve real global public health issues that they want — not what I want. Thus this course (like all of my courses) is student driven and focused. By the end, if the student is truly motivated, interested and passionate about their topic, it shows in their final fieldwork project or proposal. After teaching for over 20 years, I can definitely tell.
Now that I have been teaching this course for 4 years (originally in the traditional face-to-face format) and recognizing that global health courses are finally becoming apart of every university’s curriculum, I get excited every semester to know that all of my students are gaining a new perspective on health and medical care that they normally do not get elsewhere. Although it is important to know about the health and medical care issues of our immediate surroundings and region (eastern North Carolina), it is significantly important to get a better understanding of the global and world public health issues simply because our world is changing each and every day and we must be prepared! That’s how important this class is today and in the future for all those who will be working in a health or medical related field in the near future.
Here is a list of some of the projects completed by students last Fall 2008 semester.
Reducing the Risk of Chronic Diseases Through the Reduction of Tobacco Use and Exposure: A Global Public Health Issue
Breast Cancer in North Carolina: African American Women
A Global Perspective of HIV/AIDS
Globalization: Effects of India’s Growing Population and Medical Anthropology
Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use by African Americans in Eastern North Carolina
Access to Healthcare: Rural vs Urban
Attitudes about HIV Testing on a South-Eastern U.S. College Campus and Developing a Questionnaire Technique for Other Populations
Successful Aging: Having the Time of Your Life
The Effects of Teenage STD Rates Around the World
Oncology Nurses and Relation to Patients in an Office-Based Setting: A Fieldwork Project
Health Literacy, Education, Culture and Dementia
A Global Perspective of Tobacco Smoke Exposure
Childhood Obesity: A Global Epidemic
Eating Habits and Perceptions of Infants and Pre-School Age Children
As you can see, these fieldwork projects were outstanding, investigative, diverse, practical and global all within a culturally competent approach. Although it is challenging on every student to investigate a local issue in a global perspective or another country’s public health issue from a different perspective, the students in all of my global public health classes (and all of my classes) achieve this outcome! That’s the major goal and outcome of this course each and every time that I teach it! This online format has allowed me and students to venture “outside the box” of our teaching philosophy and pedagogy.