Public Health Advocacy Curricula

Public Health Advocacy Curricula

The front cover of the Public Health Advocacy Curriculum

The Stanford Medical Youth Science Program, under the direction of Dr. Winkleby, developed this 10-lesson, experiential Public Health Advocacy Curriculum. The curriculum emphasizes the underlying social, economic, and political factors (i.e., upstream or root causes) that influence health and disease outcomes; recognizes how these factors affect populations differently; and stresses the importance of engaging in public health advocacy in one’s community.

It was developed in response to teachers who requested health curricula that extend beyond teaching, exploring individual risk factors for disease. It is one of the only published sets of lessons available on this topic.

The curriculum is comprised of ten modular lessons that combine classroom and community-based activities. Through inquiry-based activities and real-world projects, students practice academic skills (e.g., critical thinking, problem solving) and apply their learning to their own personal circumstances. Initial lessons blend articles, media analysis, debates, documentary screenings, and other activities to help students establish a foundational understanding of the upstream causes of health. Subsequent lessons allow students to explore their communities using PhotoVoice, mapping, and inventory research techniques, identifying assets and barriers to health.

To culminate their learning and observations, small groups of students develop and implement advocacy projects to address meaningful health issues facing their communities. Students then write a proposal to their local school board, city council, or other organization to suggest population-level and/or policy actions that could be taken to further expand and sustain their advocacy projects.