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Public Health and the Good Life

3rd term
Mental Health
3 credits
Academic Year:
2020 - 2021
Instruction Method:
Synchronous Online
Class Times:
  • M W,  3:30 - 4:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Luther Kalb

The World Health Organization defines health as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." But, what is wellness, well-being, thriving, flourishing or happiness? What are the bio-psycho-social factors that lead to well-being? What are the practices that can be applied, in day-to-day life, to improve well-being?

Draws on a large and rich body of interdisciplinary research from the fields of behavioral economics, epidemiology, and (cognitive, social and positive) psychology. Examines the historical roots and contemporary theory surrounding the theory, measurement, and epidemiology of well-being. Emphasis on the cognitive mechanisms and behavioral practices that influence well-being, including debunking many commonly held misconceptions about "happiness" and how to achieve it.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Understand the theory, measurement, and epidemiology of well-being
  2. Examine the cognitive and behavioral patterns that influence well-being
  3. Identify real-world, evidenced-based practices that improve well-being
  4. Apply learning to personal, professional, and public health issues
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 20% Participation
  • 30% Homework
  • 20% Presentation(s)
  • 30% Exam(s)

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Special Comments:

This course is designed to be experiential. Students will engage in lab and homework activities to reinforce course learning, with the ultimate goal of improving their well-being. Students will hear from leaders across Johns Hopkins about how they tackle professional issues (e.g., mentorship, failure, imposter syndrome) that influence well-being during the educational journey and beyond.