Community Engagement Essential to Public Health

It’s inherent in the phrase “public health” that the goal is to improve the health of those around us in the community. For a school of public health that’s focused on research, academics, and educating the next generation of public health workers, scholars, and researchers, the line may be blurred as to how public health in academia translates into the “real world.” Making this transition is a priority for those at the IU School of Public Health–Bloomington.

“We work to take the great research being done at our school and put it into action whether that’s here in Bloomington, across Indiana or elsewhere in the world,” says Carrie Docherty, interim associate dean for Community and Global Engagement. “It’s important to apply our research outcomes to those in the local, national and global community to improve health. That’s why so many of our students choose careers in public health – they want to research issues and provide solutions.”

The IU School of Public Health provides these solutions through a number of programs and initiatives, including providing education, hosting scholars from across the world, and developing tools for health education.

“Research is just research if the results aren’t taken and applied to the real life problem,” Docherty says. “Connecting our faculty with communities so they can see their research findings have a meaningful impact in someone’s health and wellness is the ultimate reward.”

Engaging our local community

Webinar Series
Starting in February of this year, the School of Public Health–Bloomington, through its Public Health & YOU initiative, has hosted a monthly webinar featuring experts from the school. Each webinar focuses on a specific dimension of public health in an effort to enhance understanding of the breadth and depth of public health, to enhance connections with community members, and provide important, relevant and useful information to local, regional, state, and national communities.

National Public Health Week conference
The IU School of Public Health–Bloomington was this year’s host for the Indiana Public Health Association’s National Public Health Week conference in April. The conference featured Stephanie Zaza, M.D., M.P.H., medical officer at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other experts who shared information on policy resolutions, Indiana’s chronic disease plan, health equity and water safety to public health workers from across Indiana.

Bullying and interpersonal violence prevention curriculum
Professors Jonathon Beckmeyer and Catherine Sherwood-Laughlin, along with Linda Henderson from the school’s Office of Global and Community Health Partnerships, and graduate students in the school, have developed bullying and interpersonal violence prevention curriculum for fourth graders as well as a bullying prevention toolbox for parents. The School of Public Health provides the curriculum as well as training on implementing the lessons at no cost to school corporations throughout south central Indiana. The seven lessons focus on anger management, decision making skills, conflict resolution, and the power of words, among other topics.

Engaging our global community

Peace Corps fellowship
Starting with the fall semester, the School of Public Health is proud to be a part of the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which supports and encourages Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to continue to follow their passion for community service while working toward a Master of Public Health degree at the school. These Coverdell Fellows will work several hours per week throughout the course of their studies at a local nonprofit organization to assist the group with their public health initiatives.

Siyazama semester
Taking cues from the exhibit Siyazama: Traditional Arts, Education, and AIDS in South Africa, on display at the Mathers Museum through December 19, 2016, the school is in the midst of a semester of discussion, action, and creation to reflect the theme of “Art and Public Health: Expression, Vocation, Education.” The school has hosted a number of events, which will culminate with a celebration at the end of November marking World AIDS Day, and selecting the winner of a semester-long video contest to develop a public service announcement focused on HIV/AIDS awareness.

Egyptian Fulbright Scholars
For 10 weeks this summer, the IU School of Public Health–Bloomington and City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy hosted a cohort of Egyptian public health scholars through the Fulbright Junior Faculty Development Program. As the only public health group selected for the program in 2016, IU and CUNY developed a curriculum focused on teaching methodology, pedagogy, resources, and technology in order to facilitate faculty development and collaboration among the junior scholars.

Mandela Washington Fellows
In June, IU hosted 25 scholars from Sub-Saharan Africa through the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders program. Several of these scholars were interested in public health and met with leaders and professors from the School of Public Health to learn about programs and opportunities, as well as workforce development and collaboration opportunities. The visit allowed the fellows to not only leave with information that can help enhance public health in their home communities but with resources for future research, education, and collaborations.