Online Program

Getting pleasure into the curriculum: Techniques for teaching an affirmative sexuality course in schools of public health

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

S. Bryn Austin, ScD, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA
Important aspects of sexual health are now routinely included in the curricula of graduate schools of public health, including HIV and other STIs, unintended pregnancy, and sexual violence. While all are critical issues, often left out of the pedagogy are pleasure and sexual well-being and their potential unique contribution to reducing health disparities and achieving population health. After years of student advocacy at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), in 2008 a new course on sexual health was added to the curriculum that is not simply protectionist; that is, not focused solely on protecting people from harms, as was characteristic of the curriculum up to that point. Rather the course delves into affirmative sexuality perspectives and, as its point of departure, rejects the notion that public health must cede the realm of pleasure until all dangers have been eliminated. The course has now been taught for six years at HSPH and garnered two teaching awards. This presentation will: 1) explain how philosophical (affirmative vs. protectionist), transdisciplinary (e.g., social psychology, feminist theory, epidemiology, neuroendocrinology, social work, health policy and law, political advocacy), and pedagogical (student-centered active learning) perspectives informed the design of the course; 2) describe a variety of innovative, student-centered active learning techniques used to teach affirmative sexuality topics; and 3) offer guidance to audience members for identifying opportunities where they may similarly introduce affirmative sexuality and transdisciplinary perspectives and active-learning teaching techniques into the curricula at their own public health schools or universities.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Differentiate affirmative from protectionist approaches to sexual health promotion and explain the value of including affirmative sexual health perspectives in public health education and practice. Describe a variety of innovative, student-centered active learning techniques used to teach affirmative sexuality topics in a course for graduate students of public health. Identify opportunities for audience members to introduce affirmative sexuality perspectives into the curricula at their own public health schools and institutions of higher learning.

Keyword(s): Sexuality, Public Health Curriculum

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I designed the course I will be presenting on, "Sexuality and Public Health," and I have taught it for six years at a graduate school of public health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.