3 credits. Letter grades only.
Public health efforts are usually dependent on people changing their behavior, attitudes, or perceptions. Communication is a key component of facilitating that change. This course helps students understand the influence of communication in public health and how to use theory to identify the barrier to the desired behavior for a particular audience. Students will learn how to conduct an audience analysis in order to develop targeted, relevant, compelling and accessible communication products. This course will introduce students to key concepts and provide a foundation for further exploration and depth. Over the term, we will incorporate theory, best practices, design principles, examples, critiques, cultural considerations, and exploration of various communication forms. We will address the basics of relevant communication theory, including theories of behavior change and the role of narrative and emotion. We will address issues of health literacy and the association communication strategies needed to advance public health and health equity. We will cover how communication relates to pressing (inter)national public health issues: climate change, sustainability, misinformation, racism and discrimination. With this foundation, students will gain appreciation for communication’s influence on public health and determinants at individual and population levels. Students will assess a range of public health communication efforts and their impacts on audiences, evaluate audience needs, and design a theory-informed public health communication product tailored to an audience for a specific goal. This product will be developed iteratively through individual and lab-based work. Students who have a community partner may work on a communication-related project for that partner; when possible, faculty will share opportunities for other community-engaged work for students without an existing partner.