GCC 3028/5028

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Harnessing the Power of Research, Community, Clinic, and Policy to Build a Culture of Health

Imagine a world where factors such as race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status had no bearing on a person's health status, quality of life, or longevity--a world where everyone had an equal opportunity to live a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Despite decades of focused public health efforts, health inequities remain; individuals from low income and diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds are far more likely to, (1) struggle with chronic health conditions, (2) report lower quality of life, and (3) have a lower life expectancy, than others. Bold and innovative solutions are needed to address this grand challenge. Integration is one such method that can potentially increase the success and sustainability of approaches to reduce health disparities and create a culture of health for all. Integration is an approach to solving complex public health problems that merges academic research, clinical practice, policy and community resources in new ways.

This interactive course will challenge students to identify root causes of health, including access to food, housing, transportation and education. Students will also focus on health disparities and barriers to eliminating these existing, disparate, negative outcomes. Students will be introduced to the concept of integration science and practice; will learn about the importance of integration across research, practice, community, and policy domains to address health disparities; and will cultivate the communication skills needed to intentionally and successfully facilitate integration practice. Course instructors with unique vantage points as concerned scientists, health practitioners, and policy wonks will engage students in class discussions and activities, individual writing assignments and small-group work aimed at unveiling the reasons health disparities persist globally--challenging them to consider opportunities for integration to alleviate existing disparities. The semester will culminate in students working in groups to create their own integrated projects aimed at addressing a health disparity.