Course Syllabus

Public Health 690F
Public Health and Social Justice
W 9:30am-12:00pm
DuBois Library, Room 767

Professors: Aline Gubrium, Ph.D. and Tom Schiff, Ed.D.
Office location: 304 Arnold House (AG) and 342 University Health Services (TS)
Office phone: 413.545.2244 (AG) and 413.577.5133 (TS)
Office hours: W 12:00-2:00pm or by appointment
Email: and
Course blog:

PDF of syllabus

“Technology…is not simply an adjunct to business-as-usual; it becomes a defining quality of our culture as researchers. As such, we might do well to devote more of our energies to studying ourselves as we study others (Tedlock, 2005). In other words, we need to turn our observational skills on the encounters we ourselves create; we must observe not only what happens when ‘we’ encounter ‘them,’ but also what happens to us when we mediate those encounters via a particular kind of technology that has the capacity to transform both our way of seeing and our way of understanding the world” (Michael V. Angrosino, 2007, Naturalistic Observation, Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press, Inc., p. 119).

Course Description
This course provides an introduction to bringing emergent methodologies into community action strategies targeting health promotion and health education. It is designed to provide students with theoretical principles, methods, and skills essential to plan, implement, and evaluate community development activities. This semester, we will focus on digital technologies, such as blogging, digital photography, and digital storytelling, as youth action strategies and methods for community organizing for civil engagement in health promotion activities. To accomplish our learning objectives, students registered in this class will collaborate with each other and with students on the UMass campus and/or at The Care Center in Holyoke to support the planning, training, and implementation of student constructed projects (digital stories) focused on important issues within their communities.

Course Objectives

  • Identify community development processes and related innovative technological strategies that may be used in health promotion and health education programs;
  • Understand the dynamics and dimensions of social change processes;
  • Understand community developmental theoretical frameworks associated with social change, such as empowerment, community participation, and capacity building;
  • Identify community development methods associated with organizing, development of critical consciousness, and non-formal/participatory youth education;
  • Identify roles and responsibilities of the public health educator, other practitioners, and community members as agents of change;
  • Apply theories related to the transformation of human relations, building individual and group capacity, and development of critical consciousness in facilitation of group work activities;
  • Use participatory education methods, such as grassroots organizing, community action, and peer education in school-based youth development projects.

Public Health Outcome Competencies
After completing PUBHLTH690F “Public Health and Social Justice,” you should be able to:

  • Identify, analyze and interpret factors influencing people’s health status through a strong foundation in community developmental theoretical frameworks associated with social change;
  • Demonstrate sensitivity to diversity in communities; and
  • Communicate the mission of public health as it is associated with social justice strategies effectively.

Course Format
For the first seven weeks the class will meet for one 2.5-hour period per week. During these first seven weeks we will meet at the UMass assigned OIT classroom, in which we will discuss course readings and you will learn about emerging technologies that may be incorporated into community health outreach programs. Class format during this time will include seminar discussions, digital technology trainings, and individual and small group work activities to provide students with both a theoretical framework and practical skills. In particular, you will contribute to a course-based blog, work with digital photos in a focus group setting and using photo elicitation strategies, and you will be trained in a community-based participatory method called digital storytelling. During this time, you will each produce a three-to-five minute digital story related to your own experiences and will learn how to train others to produce digital stories. All of these materials, with your consent, will be placed on an interactive course blog and will serve as a model for the social justice project that you will be working on with other UMass/Holyoke students.

For the last seven weeks, some of you will be partnered with UMass students taking part in an on-campus University Health Services (UHS) group, while other students in the course will be partnered with students served by The Care Center in Holyoke. All partnering students will be participating in the course as part of extracurricular initiatives run through UMass UHS or The Care Center. For the second part of the semester, students will meet with partnering students during a scheduled block of time during the week (2-3 hours in length), some of which may occur during times other than our assigned class period. This time will be dedicated to providing cohesive and consistent training sessions on the construction of digital stories to partnering students. During this time you will serve a train-the-trainer function, in which you will be responsible for training other students in method of digital storytelling, as well as facilitating photo elicitation techniques useful in the construction of digital stories. Additionally, you will learn community-based research and action techniques, in which the health outreach project is constructed through a community consensus model as directed by the partnering students. At the end of the course session all participating students in the course (those registered for the course and partnering students) will take part in a gallery showing of their work, in which community members, healthcare providers, and key community stakeholders will be invited to the exhibit to hear from all of you about your stories and receive input from you about your issues of concern.

Requirements and Responsibilities
1.0 GB USB memory stick ($25 at the UMass Book Store)

The following required book for the course is available at Food for Thought Books, 106 N. Pleasant St., Amherst, MA:

J. Lambert. (2006) Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. Berkeley: Digital Diner Press.

Articles for this course will be available either online or will be distributed during the class period prior to the assigned due date.

Grading Rubric
Evaluation of class performance will be based on performance in three areas: active class engagement, blog responses, and community practice participation. An “A” or evaluation of excellence in the course will be based on an exemplary performance in all of the following course components. Students are expected to read all assignments prior to the class for which they are assigned. This class will be primarily discussion based/seminar format and will be extremely participatory in nature. Course discussions are intended to supplement, not replace, the readings. That is, assigned readings are expected to be read, and at times responded to, despite the possibility that time will not permit us to discuss them all.

Assignments: All students are required to fulfill the following responsibilities. Your final grade will be based on the following percentages as indicated below:
1. Active in-class engagement 40%
2. Weekly blog posts 20%
3. Community practice participation 40%

1. Active in-class engagement: This includes contributions to the class discussions based on required readings and community project activities. This component will account for 40% of your final course grade. Your presence in the classroom is key for active participation. Your conscientious efforts to keep up with course activities will determine the quality of your contributions. As such, you may be required to do some extracurricular work on your digital storytelling projects in order to complete course session outcomes on time. The course uses the notion of students as a “community of learners” as its foundation. As such, each class member is expected to participate in both learning and teaching as the semester unfolds. This not only assumes pre-preparation, but also active engagement. Attendance will be taken during each in-class session and will contribute to the grade you receive for this component.

2. Course blog posts: Using our course blog, you will describe your learning experiences with the readings, class discussions, and community engagement project. This component will account for 20% of your final course grade. Over the course of the semester you will each be responsible for blog posts (comments) to the course blog (
Blog posts on the course blog will essentially serve as reaction papers to readings, discussions, and course activities. Blog posts are due online the day of class (Wednesday). Each of you will choose a blog nickname (pseudonym), which will allow for you to virtually anonymously post on assigned topics. Please make sure to email Dr. Gubrium your blog pseudonym so that she is able to identify who is writing which blog. You are encouraged to respond to others’ blog posts—the blog is a forum for creating a community conversation about course activities.

Blog posts will be graded using a “check-minus,” “check,” or “check-plus” format. Blog posts receiving a “check-minus” are those that appear to be written hastily, without much thought given to the course reading beyond a brief summary and without linking course readings or activities to your daily lives or the ways you have learned about course materials/activities in other settings. Blog posts receiving a “check” are those that review course readings, discussions and activities in a summary fashion, but do not expand much beyond a summary format. Blog posts receiving a “check-plus” are those that review course materials, link course materials to outside experiences and alternative ways of learning about course materials, and critically consider what is learned from course readings, discussions and activities.

Please consider Mitchell and Coltrinari’s (2001) guidelines in writing your reflective blog entries:

• Describe the event(s) or activity(ies): What happened?
• Process reaction to event(s): What were your thoughts, feelings, assumptions, beliefs, values, and attitudes?
• Examine your thought pattern: What was the reasoning and thinking behind your actions and practices?
• Evaluative: What are the implications of your actions and practices?
• Reconstructive: What are your ideas or plans for future actions?

We will all be able to read and comments upon each others’ blog posts as a community classroom of learners and colleagues.

3. Community practice participation: The required train-the-trainer project, discussed more elaborately in the course format section of this syllabus, involves weekly meetings over the course of an eight-week period with student partners. This component will account for 40% of your final grade.

Academic Honesty Policy: Our reading, evaluation and grading of your reflective blog entries will follow the policy of academic honesty established by the University of Massachusetts. This policy is described in the student handbook and found at:

It is the responsibility of the student to be familiar with professional ethical standards used to acknowledge and credit the ideas of others included in class assignments and other writings. We will report plagiarism either word-for-word or non-cited paraphrasing of published and non-published materials, including other students’ works, or works that have been previously submitted for other courses to the department chair and faculty for appropriate action. Student work that contains recognizable plagiarized ideas or already submitted for credit in other courses will be graded “F” automatically. Information obtained from the Internet must include who said what, when and where in order to be appropriately credited. Please remember, though, that a large proportion of Internet material is not peer-reviewed, and thus is not deemed as acceptable as an academic resource (this does not include articles that you find through database searches on the library website). I urge you to review the mechanics of documentation, especially the distinction between direct citing, paraphrasing, summarizing and synthesizing, and the general rules for presenting references before you start writing your assignments. Our library has a collection of academic writing books available to students. In addition, the Writing Center provides tutorials on a walk-in basis and by appointment.

Accommodation policy: We follow the University of Massachusetts Amherst policy on special accommodations. If you have a documented disability that requires an accommodation, please notify us within the first two weeks of the semester so that we may make appropriate arrangements. Please bring with you the form for instructors given by the Disability Services (DS), Learning Disabilities Support Services (LDSS), or Psychological Disability Services (PDS).

Cell phone policy: Please turn your cell phones off during class. Ringing/vibrating cell phone disturb the flow of the class.

Course content and outline
A description of class meetings, assigned readings (due read on the date they are noted on the syllabus), class activities, and class assignments is included in the schedule below. Please note that our syllabus change policy is that, except for changes that substantially affect implementation of the evaluation/grading statement, we treat this document as a guide for the course that can change according to needs, interests, and requests of students.


Week 1

January 30th: Introduction to course content, methodologies, and requirements

(Reading Focus: Public Health and Social Justice Concepts)

During this session you will be introduced to the course and we will review the course syllabus and course blog. We will present an introductory lecture on approaches to addressing social justice in public health.

· Reading:

· Reading: From Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor: Chapter 5: “Health, healing, and social justice: Insights from liberation theology,” Paul Farmer, pp. 139-159 (Handout)

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: “The politics of health inequities: contested terrain,” Richard Hofrichter, pp. 1-56 (Handout)

· Class activity: Introduction to the course and review of course syllabus and blog

· Class activity: Lecture: Introduction to Social Justice in Public Health

· Outcome: Understanding how to work with course blog and course requirements and responsibilities.

Week 2

February 6th: Digital storytelling: Making meaning of our (health) stories

(Reading Focus: Public Health and Social Justice Concepts)

You will be introduced to digital storytelling as one emergent technological approach to addressing social justice in public health. You will view samples of other digital stories and will learn about the seven elements of digital storytelling, used in analyzing a digital story. Dr. Gubrium will also discuss plans for your stories, including the preparation of scripts and rough source material selection (photos and music selections).

· Readings: From Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community: Chapter 2: “Meaning and the memory box: Looking back from 2020, pp. 13-20; Chapter 3: “Stories in our lives,” pp. 21-31; and Chapter 5: “Seven elements: Story structure and design in digital storytelling,” pp. 45-59, Joe Lambert

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: Chapter 19: “Theories for social epidemiology in the twenty-first century: An ecosocial perspective,” Nancy Krieger, pp. 428-450 (Handout)

· Reading: “Levels of racism: A theoretic framework and a gardener’s tale,” Camara Phyllis Jones, American Journal of Public Health (2000) 90(8), pp. 1212-1215 (Handout)

· Class activity: View digital storytelling samples

· Class activity: Seven elements lecture

· Class activity: Writing activity with index cards

· Outcome: Become oriented with digital storytelling

· Assignment: First draft of story (1-2 pages) written

Week 3

February 13th: Digital storytelling: Scripting and storyboarding

(Reading Focus: Personal Stories)

You will bring to class a first draft of your script (one to two pages in length) and we will then join as a storycircle to listen to, reflect upon, and provide constructive comments on each other’s stories, taking the seven elements of storytelling lecture into consideration. Dr. Gubrium will present the storyboarding process and you will work this week to edit your narrative to get it ready for a voiceover.

· Readings: From Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community: Chapter 4: “Approaches to the scripting process: Prompts and processes,” pp. 33-41; Chapter 6: “Storyboarding,” pp. 61-67; and Chapter 9, “The storycircle: Process and participation in the digital storytelling workshop, pp. 93-101, Joe Lambert

· Readings: From Tell Your Life Story: Creating Dialogue among Jews and Germans, Israelis and Palestinians: Introduction: “My journey through the whirlwind,” pp. 1-22; Chapter 1: “Developing a methodology: Narratives and stories,” pp. 23-36; and Chapter 4: “Story-telling in the Israeli Jewish and Palestinian context,” pp. 121-159, Dan Bar-On (Handouts)

· Readings: From Race, Class, and Gender in the United States: An Integrated Study: “The myth of the Latin woman, Judith Ortiz Cofer, pp. 203-207; “With no immediate cause,” Ntozake Shange, pp. 236-238; and “Silent scream,” Carole R. Simmons, pp. 263-265 (Handouts)

· Class activity: Storycircle

· Class activity: Storyboarding

· Class activity: Revise stories

· Outcome: Stories revised and ready for voiceover recording

Week 4

February 20th: Digital photo elicitation techniques and ways of representing

(Reading Focus: Representation in Relation to Social Justice)

During this session you will be asked to bring in digital photos, printed photos, or images cut out or reproduced from any media that link to the story you want to tell. You will participate in a photo elicitation activity, will learn about scanning photos to a computer, and will learn about working with images in Photoshop Elements.

· Reading: From Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials: Chapter 11: “Making photographs as part of a research project: Photo-elicitation, photo-documentation and other uses of photos,” Gillian Rose, pp. 237-256 (Handout)

· Reading: From Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: Chapter 9: “Using Photovoice as a participatory assessment and issue selection tool: A case study with the homeless in Ann Arbor,” CarolineWang, pp. 179-196 (Handout)

· Reading: From Visual Research Methods: Image, Society, and Representation: “Inner-city children in sharper focus: Sociology of childhood and photo elicitation interviews,” Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, pp. 167-196 (Handout)

· Class activity: Photolanguage/photo elicitation technique activity

· Class activity: Scanning photos

· Class activity: OIT Photoshop Elements lecture

· Outcome: Photos scanned to computer and adjusted using Photoshop Elements

· Assignment: Bring in photos or take digital photos that link to your story.

Week 5

February 27th: Digital storytelling: Constructing your story

(Reading Focus: Intersectionality)

You will record a voiceover of your script in Sound Studio 2.2.4, to be used as an audio portion of the digital story. You will learn about importing your visual and audio materials into iMovie, beginning a rough edit of your digital story.

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: Reading: “Gender, health, and equity: The intersections,” Piroska Ostlïn, Asha George & Gita Sen, pp. 132-156 (Handout)

· Reading: From Oppression, Privilege, & Resistance: Theoretical Perspectives on Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism: “Five faces of oppression,” Iris Marion Young, pp. 37-63 (Handout)

· Reading: From Oppression, Privilege, & Resistance: Theoretical Perspectives on Racism, Sexism, and Heterosexism: “Blaming the victim,” William Ryan, pp. 275-285 (Handout)

· Class activity: OIT lecture on working with iMovie and brief lecture on copyright

· Class activity: Record voiceover

· Class activity: Import voiceover and photos to iMovie

· Outcome: Voiceover recorded. Voiceover and photos imported into iMovie.

Week 6

March 5th: Digital Storytelling: Final editing

(Reading Focus: Social Determinants of Health)

You will continue to edit your stories in iMovie, completing a second edit of your story. You will also learn about possible special effects to be used in digital storytelling—such as image pan, motion, soundtrack, and titles. You will produce a final edit and review your digital story and at the end of the session will complete the editing process and make a draft of the final version.

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: “The political, economic, and social determinants of health inequalities in the United States,” Dennis Raphael, pp. 59-88 (Handout)

· Reading: “Is Patriarchy the Source of Men’s Higher Mortality?” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 59, D. Stanistreet, C. Bambra & A. Scott-Samuel, pp. 873-876 (Handout)Hand

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: “Addressing structural influences on the health of urban populations,” Arline T. Geronimus, pp. 542-556 (Handout)

· Class activity: Special effects in iMovie lecture

· Class activity: Edit stories in iMovie

· Outcome: Final edit of digital story completed

Week 7

March 12th:
Digital storytelling: Presentation and community practice planning

(Reading Focus: Emergent Participatory Methodologies)

During this session you will present your digital story to the rest of the class and we will discuss plans for our community collaboration project, planning how to translate what you have learned so far into a train-the-trainer workshop for partnering students.

· Reading: “The future of health promotion: Talkin’ technology blues” (Wang) (Handout)

· Reading: From Community Organizing and Community Building for Health: Chapter 19: “Using the arts in community organizing and community building” Marian McDonald, Jennifer Sarché & Caroline Wang, pp. 346-364 (Handout)

· Class activity: Presentation of digital stories

· Class activity: Planning for train-the-trainer workshop

· Outcome: Plan for train-the-trainer workshop established

Week 8: March 19th: Spring Break—No class today!


Week 9

March 26th: Introduction to digital storytelling

(Reading Focus: Introduction to Community-Based Participatory Research)

As a group, you will prepare a presentation introducing partnering students to digital storytelling. You will present examples of digital stories (your own?) to partnering students. Finally, you will ask partnering students to begin thinking about an idea for their stories and to gather photos and digital images that might mesh well with their stories.

· Reading: From Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: Chapter 2: “The conceptual historical, and practice roots of community based participatory research and related participatory traditions” Nina Wallerstein & Bonnie Duran, pp. 27-52 (Handout)

· Reading: From Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: Chapter 3: “Critical issues in developing and following community based participatory research principles,” Israel et al., pp. 53-79 (Handout)

· Reading: From Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: Chapter 4: “The Dance of Race and Privilege in Community based Participatory Research,” Chávez et al., pp. 81-97 (Handout)

· Group activity: Present digital storytelling orientation lecture, including digital storytelling examples

· Group activity: Review ground rules for digital storytelling process, the schedule of activities over the next six weeks, and what students will be expected to complete during each session.

· Outcome: Partnering students gain better understanding of digital storytelling

· Assignment: Orientation lecture on digital storytelling

Week 10

April 2nd: Train-the-trainers: Seven elements of storytelling

(Reading Focus: CBPR Case Studies)

During this session you will present a lecture on the seven elements of digital storytelling, used in the construction and analysis of a digital story. You will also discuss plans for student-participant stories, including the preparation of scripts, rough source material selection (photos and music selections), and the storyboarding process. We will ask students to take digital photos or to bring in photos to be scanned, that link up to the central theme of their story and which will be incorporated into the digital story.

· Reading: From Community Organizing and Community Building for Health: Chapter 12: “Freirian praxis in health education and community organizing: A case study of an adolescent prevention program,” Nina Wallerstein, Victoria Sanchez & Lily Velarde, pp. 218-236 (Handout)

· Reading: From Building Community: Social Science in Action: Case Study 13: “Research as praxis: The role of a university-based program in facilitating community change,” Mel King & Laxmi Ramasubramanian, pp. 112-119 (Handout)

· Reading: From Feminism and Method: Ethnography, Discourse Analysis, and Activist Research: Chapter 10: “Survivors going public: The limits of participatory research, Nancy Naples, pp. 187-193 (Handout)

· Group activity: Review seven elements of storytelling lecture

· Group activity: Create folders on computers for each partnering student to store project/project files.

· Outcome: Partnering students have better understanding of seven elements of storytelling

· Assignment: Ask partnering students to bring in photos (digital or printed photos) and first draft of story (1-2 pages) for next meeting.

Week 11

April 9th: Train-the-trainers: Storycircles

(Reading Focus: Pedagogical Approaches)

We will conduct an initial storycircle centering on partnering students’ first draft of their stories, for partnering students to listen to, reflect upon, and provide constructive comments on each other’s stories. Students will review and re-write the scripts of their story.

· Reading: From Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: “Theoretical foundations for social justice education,” Lee Anne Bell, pp. 1-14 (Handout)

· Reading: From “I won’t learn from you”: And Other Thoughts on Creative Maladjustment: Chapter 1, Herbert R. Kohl, pp. 1-31 (Handout)

· Reading: From The social construction of difference and inequality: race, class, gender, and sexuality: “Savage inequalities: Children in America’s Schools,” Jonathan Kozol, pp. 262-268 (Handout)

· Group activity: Storycircle with partnering students

· Group activity: Revision of scripts

· Outcome: Partnering students complete a revision of their script

· Assignment: Partnering students bring in photos and have first draft of story ready to present and discuss.

Week 12

April 16th: Train-the-trainers: Voiceovers

(Reading Focus: Mass Media, Public Health and Social Justice)

Partnering students will complete a final revision of their scripts and record a voiceover of the script in Sound Studio 2.2.4, to be used as an audio portion of the digital story.

· Reading: From Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community: Chapter 10: “Reflections on the Meaning and Uses of Digital Storytelling,” Joe Lambert, pp. 103-117

· Reading: From The Handbook of New Media: Chapter 2: “Creating community with media: History, theories, and scientific investigations,” Nicholas W. Jankowski, pp. 55-74 (Handout)

· Reading: From Health and Social Justice: Politics, Ideology, and Inequity in the Distribution of Disease: A Public Health Reader: Chapter 27: “The role of mass media in creating social capital: A new direction for public health,” Lawrence Wallack, pp. 594-625 (Handout)

· Group activity: Final revising of story script

· Group activity: Partnering students record voiceover of script

· Outcome: Voiceover of script imported to iMovie

· Assignment: Ask partnering students to make sure to have all photos and digital images that they would like to include in their digital stories with them during the next session.

Week 13

April 23rd: Train-the-trainers: Revisions and Working with Digital Images

We will begin by scanning partnering students’ photos to a computer and present a tutorial on working with Photoshop Elements to edit photos for the digital story.

· Group activity: Teaching how to scan photos

· Group activity: Photoshop Elements lecture

· Group activity: Adjust photos so ready for import to iMovie

· Outcome: Partnering students’ photos and images scanned to computers.

· Assignment: Photoshop Elements lecture prepared

Week 14

April 30th: Pulling it all together with iMovie

You will teach partnering students about importing their visual and audio materials into iMovie, beginning a rough edit of their digital story. You will also teach students about possible special effects to be used in digital storytelling—such as image pan, motion, soundtrack, and titles. Students will also learn about copyright issues with regard to digital images and music.

· Group activity: iMovie tutorial and brief copyright lecture

· Group activity: Students import visual and audio/soundtrack to iMovie

· Outcome: Partnering students’ visual and audio materials imported to iMovie

· Assignment: iMovie tutorial lecture, brief lecture on copyright

Week 15

May 7th: Train-the-trainers: Editing and Special Effects

You will assist partnering students in making a draft of the final version of their digital stories. Partnering students will present their digital stories to the rest of the group with discussion to follow. We will end the semester by incorporating the partnering students’ digital stories into their group blog, to be used in a community health education outreach forum.

· Group activity: Partnering students complete final draft of digital stories

· Group activity: Group presentation of digital stories

· Outcome: Final draft of digital stories completed and presented during session

· Assignment (to complete before gallery opening): Digital stories posted on course blog site.

Week of May 14th: Gallery opening presenting digital stories!!