Online Program

Global community-based public health research: Educating for social justice

Monday, November 2, 2015

Constance Currier, DrPH, MPH, Program in Public Health, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Linda Gordon, MS, MA, Program in Public Health, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Social justice is a core value and the foundation of public health.  To better prepare public health professionals for the 21st century, in 2002 the Institute of Medicine recommended education and training in cultural competence, global health and active participation in community-based participatory research (CBPR), learning and service.  Study abroad provides an opportunity to educate public health students about social justice and community-based research methods in a global health setting.  For the past four years the Michigan State University Program in Public Health has offered Public Health in Ghana:  Methods for Community Practice, a unique study abroad program that allows students to examine global health from an anthropological perspective using a social justice framework while conducting CBPR in a small rural community in Ghana.  The program is the result of a collaborative academic partnership between the MSU Program in Public Health and MountCrest University College in Larteh, Ghana.

A social justice approach to public health requires addressing the social determinants of health to reduce health inequities.  This approach:

  • Acknowledges social justice as the foundation of public health
  • Analyzes/addresses the determinants of health
  • Acts to reduce health inequities
  • Works with and for vulnerable/marginalized populations
  • Uses a community-based participatory approach
  • Applies social justice and humans rights principles

Using examples, this presentation will discuss how a practicum experience abroad engages public health students in a critical dialogue about social justice while living in, and collaborating with, the community in the research process.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe components of a social justice approach to public health practice

Keyword(s): Community-Based Research (CBPR), Social Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am faculty with the Michigan State University Program in Public Health and teach courses on global public health. I take students to Ghana to learn about health beliefs and practices and conduct community-based research as part of the MPH practicum experience. I have lived in Sub-Saharan Africa for over 5 years working on global health-related programs. I was involved with the ASPH MPH core competencies project and the development of the global health competencies.
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.