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Problem Solving in Public Health

Barcelona, Spain
2nd term
4 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Synchronous Online
Tue 11/02/2021 - Wed 11/10/2021
Class Times:
  • M Tu W Th F,  8:00am - 12:50pm
Auditors Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Judith Holzer

Uses divergent public health issues to illustrate a systematic problem solving process for use in addressing public health problems. The problem solving process includes defining the problem, measuring its magnitude, understanding the key determinants, developing a conceptual framework of the relationships between the key determinants, identifying and developing intervention and prevention strategies (either interventions or policies), setting priorities among intervention options, understanding barriers to implementation and evaluation, and developing an effective communication strategy. Consists of lectures, discussions, small-group exercises, a group project, and individual assignments.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Analyze a public health problem and evaluate intervention/policy alternatives using the problem solving methodology
  2. Compare and contrast the utility of the methodology to solve public health problems that emerge at different periods in the life cycle and in different cultures, including: HIV/AIDS, childhood immunization, radioactive iodine exposure and thyroid cancer, unintended injuries and their prevention, obesity prevention, tobacco abuse, screening mammography and breast cancer
  3. Carry out a group project in which student groups will research a specific public health problem, prepare a written report and present their recommendations to the class following the problem-solving methodology
  4. Recognize the complexity of policy development, including a discussion of the politics of public health issues, the roles of interest groups and stakeholders, and the laws and social values that must be woven into successful policies
  5. Integrate human rights and ethical principles into the analysis of public health problems and recommended strategies
  6. Recognize the critical role of communication in public health practice
  7. Work together in multi-disciplinary groups that model the way public health agencies conduct problem-solving activities
  8. Demonstrate critical and analytical thinking by preparing three individual products (a self-assessment of the process, an individual critique of a paper submitted by another group, and a health and human rights assessment)
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 25% Written Assignment(s)
  • 8% Discussion Board
  • 20% Presentation(s)
  • 35% Written report
  • 12% Small group session participation and performance

Enrollment Restriction:

undergraduates and interdivisional registration is not permitted for this course

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for all students

Consent Note:
For consent, contact:

Special Comments:

This course will not be offered in Barcelona, Spain this year but through live Zoom sessions (offered at specified times).