Advancing Public Health Education through Place-based Learning: ‘On the Road in the Deep South’

Academic Article


  • Great disparities in access and other inequities exist in the United States, and health injustices frequently have deep historical ties, especially in the South. Therefore, it is critically important for students to understand root causes of both historical and contemporary public health issues and their effects on population health. In spring 2018, 15 students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham participated in a six-credit hour travel course by touring throughout the Deep South to learn more about the ways in which history and place interact with programs, policies, and practices to influence population health. Students saw firsthand how the social determinants of health frequently impacted access to health care and discovered the value of a multidisciplinary approach to public health and health programs in addressing health equity. The purpose of this article is to describe student experiences with the travel course through an exploration of reflective journal entries, blog posts, and student presentations. Additionally, the authors report results of a self-assessment designed to measure student interest and level of comfort in working with or on behalf of medically underserved populations (MUPs). The article concludes with implications for public health and best practices for offering place-based courses across disciplines.
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    Author List

  • Fifolt M; McCormick LC