Public health students study impacts of global health book club on instructional outcomes

global health book club
Top row: Alex Rodriguez and Acquel Allen. Bottom row: Sarah Collins and Stuart Case.

By Katarina Fiorentino Klatzkow

University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions students Sarah Collins, Alex Rodriguez, Acquel Allen and Stuart Case co-authored an article with former UF professor Elizabeth Wood, D.H.S., on the effects of using first-account narratives as an instructional strategy that appears in Frontiers in Education.

Collins is a recent graduate of the Ph.D. in public health program, social and behavioral sciences concentration, while Rodriguez and Allen are current students in the program. Case is a Master of Public Health student in the social and behavioral science concentration.

Their study, titled “Cultivating Critical Consciousness Through a Global Health Book Club,” aimed to leverage the pluralistic views, social identities and demographics within a classroom to explore the effects of introducing a global health book club assignment focused on identity of culture, equity and power. They sought to examine the use of first account narratives illustrating the human experience as a teaching tool to cultivate empathy and understanding of public health threats and foster critical consciousness.

Their analysis found that six major themes were salient among the student responses from the undergraduate global public health course, including demonstrated empathy, personal reflection and growth, immersive learning experience, personally inspired, broadened perspective, and provoked emotion.

“Our findings support that a global health book club assignment is a viable and effective mechanism for engaging students in critical reflection, critical motivation and critical action,” the authors write. “In cultivating a learning environment that promotes student-centered learning and active participation, students exemplified agency in their own learning. This work can serve as an exemplary model for other public health educators to engage students in reflective-based assignments regarding their positionality and critical consciousness.”