GDS 2559/PHS 2559: Workshop in Critical Public Health [3]

Christopher Colvin, Lecturer

This course offers students a practical introduction to some of the core concepts and methods in public health.  At the same time, it also demonstrates ways we might engage more “critically” with these basic concepts and methods. Students will develop their knowledge of critical approaches to public health through lecture, discussion and the development through group work of a detailed proposal for a public health intervention. 

Public health is a broad and diverse field devoted to understanding and improving population health.  The term “critical public health” might be defined as an approach to public health that involves “deconstructing taken-for-granted concepts…and asking how these taken-for-granted elements relate to” broader structures of social, political and economic power.  It takes a critical perspective on the day-to-day practice of public health—a field that can over-emphasize technological interventions and individual behavior—and reveals how one’s health is always tied up in one’s social relationships, political opportunities, ecological exposures and economic status.

This “workshop” course will first introduce students to some of the basic concepts and methods in public health as well as the theoretical tools used to critique global public health and then workshop a proposal for a practical public health intervention that meaningfully, and as far as possible, takes these critiques on board.

GSGS 3365/PPOL 5225/NUIP 4005/RELG 3559: Conscious Social Change [3]

Gretchen Wallace, Visiting Lecturer


In January 2015, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Contemplative Sciences Center at UVA will partner with Global Grassroots to launch a unique program in Conscious Social Change at the intersection of personal leadership, global citizenship, social entrepreneurship, community engagement, and contemplation. The Conscious Social Change course, which would be offered at UVA as a two week JTerm course, is an experiential education program designed and taught by Gretchen Wallace, president of Global Grassroots, in coordination with UVa professors David Germano (Contemplative Sciences Center, Tibet Center) and Christine Mahoney (Batten). The course provides future leaders with the skills to invest in their own self understanding and initiate social change or engage in community service mindfully, sustainably and with impact at home or abroad. The program incorporates four components: conscious leadership practices, social entrepreneurship tools, conscious social change methodologies, and contemplative ideas and practices. After completing this program, students should be equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to:

  • Deepen cultral awareness and global citizenship skills and work collaboratively under a conscious social change and participatory paradigm in a foreign or domestic context to support communities in advancing self-sufficiency and wellness.
  • Employ social entrepreneurship frameworks to diagnose the root causes of an issue and to design a solution that will create conscious, sustainable, and systemic change
  • Pursue personal growth practices that foster responsible, ethical, and compassionate leadership