PHP 017 March: The Role of the Liberal Arts in Preparing Health Education Specialist

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Purpose. Exposure to a liberal education or a set of liberal courses or curriculum is an approach to college learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change in a competitive global economy. Public health education is a diverse, ever-changing field composed of complex challenges. Undergraduate student preparation for entry-level public health education specialists requires the mastery of the National Commission for Health Education Credentialing’s Health Education Specialist’s seven Areas of Responsibility. Due to the overlap in the Health Education Specialist Practice Analysis (HESPA) Areas of Responsibilities and the Liberal Arts (LA) guiding principles (three pillars) and Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) learning essential outcomes, liberal arts universities are uniquely positioned to offer undergraduate public health education programs. Method. Health education specialist competencies and subcompetencies were mapped onto liberal arts pillars and LEAP learning essential outcomes. Public health education course activities from two public liberal arts universities were used to demonstrate the application of health education competencies between the LA pillars and LEAP learning essential outcomes. Results. LEAP essential learning outcome Domains 1 through 3 provide a foundation for and the development of HESPA Areas I, IV, VI, and VII. A fourth domain addresses Areas III and V. Conclusion. Liberal arts universities are uniquely positioned to provide students with an undergraduate degree in the increasingly popular public health education major due to the established parallels between liberal education and health education specialist learning outcomes. 

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