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Harm Reduction: A Framework For Evidence-Based Policy And Practice

2nd term
Health Behavior and Society
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructors:
Susan Sherman

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses. There are no prerequisites for this course. We try to create an interactive environment and generate course content relevant to all, whether you have years of your own harm reduction experience or are brand new to the field!


Harm reduction strategies are important components of a comprehensive public health approach to substance use.

Discusses a variety of harm reduction strategies as they pertain to substance use issues. Introduces various programs that address substance use problems from a harm reduction perspective. Describes the evidence base supporting harm reduction programs. Explores the complicated legal and contextual issues associated with implementation of harm reduction programs.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Summarize the principles of harm reduction as a part of a comprehensive public health approach to drug use and abuse
  2. Describe the current context of harm reduction and challenges for the implementation of such programs
  3. Critique various conceptualizations of drug use and abuse (e.g., brain vs. social disease vs. moral failing)
  4. Examine how drug regulation and criminalization (crack vs. cocaine; opioid vs. heroin) contribute to health disparities and how harm reduction approaches can reduce these disparities
  5. Explore the evidence (e.g., efficacy, cost effectiveness) of various harm reduction strategies (e.g., syringe exchange programs, naloxone, safe consumption spaces, medication assisted treatment, fentanyl testing)
  6. Develop and present a range of evidence-based arguments to gain broad support of implementing harm reduction programs
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 20% Team debate
  • 30% Three Short Written Assignments
  • 25% Final VoiceThread Presentation
  • 25% LiveTalk Attendance & Class Participation

Instructor Consent:

No consent required