» Drug, Devices, and Supplements

» Physician Accountability

» Consumer Product Safety

» Worker Safety

» Health Care Delivery

» Auto and Truck Safety

» Global Access to Medicines

» Infant Formula Marketing


Activist Courses

While there is a long history of health activism in the U.S., attempts to actually teach the techniques of health activism have been relatively limited. On this website, we collect course materials from a number of courses in medical and public health schools around the country that seek to teach students the techniques of research-based health activism. Several of these courses are based on a course taught by Dr. Peter Lurie to University of Michigan undergraduates in 1997-1998. In this course, students had to develop a research protocol, collect and analyze the data and present it in a format likely to affect public policy, such as a press conference or journal article. Other courses focus on the development of protocols, but not on the collection of the data, which it is hoped will occur in another setting. A final type of course involves a series of guest lecturers speaking about their experiences in health activism. Some of these courses are no longer offered, but are presented here as models for others to emulate.

This work was funded first by a grant from the Medicine as a Profession Program of the Open Society Institute and now by the Irene Diamond Fund. Small grants are available to sustain research-based activism courses that are part of the network.

For more information contact:
Sidney Wolfe, M.D.
Health Research Group at Public Citizen


Sample Syllabus for a Semester CourseUniversity of Michigan - undergraduate (no longer offered)

Sample Syllabus for a Six Week CourseGeorge Washington University School of Public Health & Health Services (no longer offered)

Slide Show: Starting an Activist Course at Your School





Copyright © 2016 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


Together, two separate corporate entities called Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation, Inc., form Public Citizen. Both entities are part of the same overall organization, and this Web site refers to the two organizations collectively as Public Citizen.

Although the work of the two components overlaps, some activities are done by one component and not the other. The primary distinction is with respect to lobbying activity. Public Citizen, Inc., an IRS § 501(c)(4) entity, lobbies Congress to advance Public Citizen’s mission of protecting public health and safety, advancing government transparency, and urging corporate accountability. Public Citizen Foundation, however, is an IRS § 501(c)(3) organization. Accordingly, its ability to engage in lobbying is limited by federal law, but it may receive donations that are tax-deductible by the contributor. Public Citizen Inc. does most of the lobbying activity discussed on the Public Citizen Web site. Public Citizen Foundation performs most of the litigation and education activities discussed on the Web site.

You may make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., Public Citizen Foundation, or both. Contributions to both organizations are used to support our public interest work. However, each Public Citizen component will use only the funds contributed directly to it to carry out the activities it conducts as part of Public Citizen’s mission. Only gifts to the Foundation are tax-deductible. Individuals who want to join Public Citizen should make a contribution to Public Citizen, Inc., which will not be tax deductible.


To become a member of Public Citizen, click here.
To become a member and make an additional tax-deductible donation to Public Citizen Foundation, click here.