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University of Minnesota School of Medicine & School of Nursing



Sara Axtell

Course last offered: Summer 2005

Page last updated: November 7, 2008


Summer 2005

Course Description

The Health Activism course is an inter-professional health sciences elective.   The course will involve a series of skill-building workshops, and a hands-on community project.  Projects will be completed by small interdisciplinary groups, in cooperation with a community organization and a faculty mentor.  Community projects will focus on issues of health disparities, environmental justice, and access to care.

Goals and Objectives

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the role(s) of health care workers, health care and public health organizations, NGOs, and grassroots community organizations in health activism.
  • Work effectively in an interdisciplinary, community-university partnership.
  • Describe approaches to identifying community needs, agendas, and resources.
  • Demonstrate the skills basic to health activism, such as media advocacy, legislative advocacy, popular education, study circles, working with regulatory bodies, grassroots organizing, and participatory action research.

Course Requirements

Students will work in small, interdisciplinary groups with a faculty mentor and a community organization to complete or make significant progress on a project identified by a community organization.   In addition, students are required to attend one two-hour workshop each week of the course, and to meet with their faculty and community mentors at least once per week.  At the end of the course, each small group will present a summary of their project.  Each student will hand in portfolio documenting their experience, and the insights and challenges that emerged for them during the course. 

Practicum Experience

Over the five weeks, students will be at their practicum sites for 12-15 hours per week. Practicum times will be individually arranged with each site. All students will NOT be expected to be at the practicum site at the same time. For most sites, two students will work together in a group on the assigned project.

At each weekly workshop, students and faculty will discuss the progress, learnings, and challenges of each project.

Practicum Sites/Topics include: 

  • KOLA program—KOLA is the mobile health outreach program of the American Indian Community Development Corporation.   This project will focus on developing and implementing creative, community-based health education for KOLA clients.
  • Southside Community Health—Southside Community Health, located in Sabathani Community Center, is developing a new health disparities initiative in the Bryant and Central neighborhoods of Minneapolis.  This project will focus on focus groups and community meetings to identify health priorities among neighborhood residents.
  • MinnesotaUniversal Health Care Action Network—This project will focus on organizing health care professionals around issues of health care access.

Course Outline

Schedule of topics and presenters TENTATIVE!! After the first day, all sessions will be located in.

July 5—Orientation, Working with Communities

July 12—Community Asset Assessment

July 19—Popular Education

July 26—Community-Based Participatory Action Research

August 2—Presentations of Projects, Sustaining Your Activism During Your Training and Beyond