Public Health Policy

Course Number
5300 (Public Health Policy)
Course Instructor(s)
Robert Mitchell Schwartz, Raisa Berlin Deber

Course Description

  • This is an intense introductory graduate-level course in public health policy. For those of you without preparatory courses in social sciences and humanities, the reading and writing components may be challenging. However, it is our experience that the skills you will learn and demonstrate by completing the course assignments will be invaluable for your career in public health. This course has four key components: a set of required readings, selfdirected research and writing for assignments, a small-group weekly tutorial, and a lecturestyle overview of the weekly-topics. Setting aside adequate time and organizing your term’s work to attend and complete each component are essential to your success in this course. Each week you will be assigned required readings and you will have the opportunity to discuss them in a small group setting with your tutors. You will have been assigned to a tutorial group either before or after the lecture. The lectures are not a substitute for the readings. Instead they will give an overview of a particular topic in public health policy, currents issues and relevant literatures and theoretical approaches. Each course component is discussed in detail below.
  • The lectures are intended to provide summative explanation, context and illustrative case studies to further your understanding of the literature. Powerpoint slides of weekly lectures will generally be made available following the lecture. Our powerpoint slides visually reinforce the discussion but are neither comprehensive nor are they intended to summarize the content of the lecture. We encourage you to take your own notes during the lectures and as per our School’s approach to conservation of paper, we urge you not to print material unnecessarily. It is not necessary to print most lecture slides. The links below will take you to two resources that will help you take better lecture notes. There are four written assignments in this course. Three of them will comprise 90% of your grade. The weight of each assignment increases in a step-wise fashion not because it reflects their respective difficulty or importance, but in order to allow you to identify weaknesses in your writing, critical reading and research, to seek out assistance, and ultimately to provide the opportunity to improve and master the skills required to successfully complete the course. Refer to the full descriptions of each assignment for more detailed information regarding core components and style guidelines.

Course Objectives

By the end of this course, you will have achieved the following:

  • Be familiar with the structure of the Canadian Public Health System
  • Be aware of the scope of and types of literatures that make up Public Health Policy Discourse
  • Be able to locate key documents in public health policy (gray literature, research, advocacy papers)
  • Develop critical reading skills in this field and understand the socio-political dimensions of public health policy
  • Be aware of the major theoretical frameworks used to analyse policy change and their strengths and limitations
  • Be aware of important facets of current public health policy discourse (e.g., the precautionary principle, Evidence-Based decision-making and the Healthy Public Policy Movement)
  • Understand the major policy tools and players involved in public health policy making
  • Project time management: learning to balance course requirements and plan your schedule to complete required work on time and at a high level