Public health literacy in the twenty-first century: Educational policy and implications for contemporary undergraduate public health education



The Institute of Medicine concluded that keeping the public healthy required not only a well-educated public health workforce but also an educated citizenry, thus leading to its recommendation that 'all undergraduates should have access to education in public health.' One response to this call for action is demonstrated in the national initiative, The Educated Citizen and Public Health, which promotes that an understanding of public health issues is a central component of an educated public and is necessary to develop social responsibility. This chapter describes several approaches by academic institutions and public health professional associations, specifically 1.) undergraduate universities and colleges with majors and minors in public health; 2.) programs and schools of public health with articulation agreements between undergraduate and graduate public health education; and 3.) the American Public Health Association, Association of Schools of Public Health, and the Association for Prevention Teaching and Research in answering, via policy, the contemporary call for change in liberal education. To reply to this call, a wide breadth of knowledge, adaptable skills, principled values, and a sense of social responsibility is required to prepare educated citizens to effectively respond to the challenges of today's society. The chapter also discusses the contributions of public health literacy in a liberal education and the resultant implications on today's workforce. The authors propose that the discipline of public health can serve as a vision for the direction of liberal education in the twenty-first century. Specifically, an integrative methodology for the following public health courses: Introduction to Public Health, Epidemiology and Community Medicine, and Global Public Health Issues is described for preparing a population of baccalaureate students who possess "life tools" based in a liberal education viewpoint that enables them to improve the health of their society as educated citizens. Public health literacy can lead to the baccalaureate student's ability to think broadly and engage in professional skill development. This chapter will describe, in detail, interdisciplinary approaches to liberal arts education that can serve as models for other academic institutions.


Health Management and Policy

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Nova Science Publishers

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Book Chapter


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