[Un]Forgetting History: Preparing Public Health Professionals to Combat Structural Racism

This article was originally published here

J Public health management practice. 01 January-February 2022; 28 (Suppl 1): S74-S81. doi: 10.1097 / PHH.0000000000001432.

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Structural racism, a root cause of health inequalities, must be dismantled to meet society’s interest in ensuring conditions in which all people have healthy opportunities. As a result, the center’s fairness of ten essential public health services and the Council for Public Health Education (CEPH) accreditation criteria require that public health students educate themselves about racism. However, little guidance is provided to help faculty empower future generations of public health professionals to challenge it.

PROGRAM: In response to the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor in 2020, faculty at UNC Greensboro spoke out against racism and re-committed to anti-racist pedagogy and praxis. In this article, we discuss the integrated ways that a senior level public health assessment and planning course has enabled students to name structural racism, understand how it works, and work together to take action.

IMPLEMENTATION: Specifically, we highlight (1) our use of The Color of the Law book as a means of understanding racism as a structural intervention; (2) the Harvard case teaching method as an organizing framework for making the classroom a critically engaged democratic framework; (3) change experts from local health and nonprofit organizations engaged in policy making to address social determinants and disparities resulting from structural racism (e.g. housing, access to health care , food insecurity); and (4) engaging with a minority-owned nonprofit organization to enable practice to apply knowledge and skills to address local inequalities.

DISCUSSION: Our four-pronged educational approach provides an innovative and tangible example for other public health programs, as they reflect the unique power and role of academic institutions in addressing the public health crisis of structural racism.

PMID: 34797265 | DOI: 10.1097 / PHH.0000000000001432


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