How to Use this Tool
In partnership with the Teagle Foundation, IFYC awarded fourteen grants to colleges and universities developing curricular programs that used concepts, methods, and frameworks from Interfaith and Interreligious Studies to bridge liberal arts education with pre-professional preparation. One significant theme that arose was the importance of educating future healthcare providers to be capable and confident when navigating the many ways that religious beliefs and commitments influence healthcare decisions.
Across the country, more and more colleges and universities are considering how to incorporate interfaith leadership training into courses in global health, medical ethics, nursing, and physical therapy. This resource is a collection of course descriptions, learning outcomes, classroom activities, and case studies from courses developed in these programs.
Based on real courses created by faculty around the country, these examples have been revised for clarity and length.
Global Health (Shenandoah University)
Professor Audra L. Gollenberg
Course description: Global health is the study of the biological, social, and environmental factors that contribute to the creation and maintenance of health and disease in populations around the world. These factors include infectious disease, nutrition, economic factors, clean water, pollution, and globalization, among others. This course introduces students to the study of global health by exploring these topics in detail. This course is designed to give an overview of health problems from an international perspective. Students will learn to analyze risk factors for global health problems and explain the complex interactions between behavior, context, and disease.
Learning outcomes for this course include:
- Explain the health needs of special population groups (like women and children, prisoners, refugees, etc.)
- Identify major organizations that are involved in global health and illustrate the importance of individual involvement in global health affairs
- Demonstrate how religion intersects with public health practice
Case study activity: Students read “Religion and Ebola: Learning from Experience” by Katherine Marshall and Sally Smith (The Lancet, 2015) and examine recommendations from the World Health Organization reflecting on how religion and religious practices played an integral role in the 2014-2015 western African Ebola epidemic and its containment. Students also watch an assigned video on safe and dignified burials of those with Ebola in Sierra Leone. They then discuss ways to integrate religious leaders and religious practices into the control of infectious disease outbreaks, working through the following questions:
- In what ways did religion play a role in the Ebola outbreak in west Africa (2014-2015)?
- Imagine you are one of the global health outreach workers whose primary objective is to work with villages in west Africa to halt the spread of Ebola during the 2014-2015 epidemic. In what ways should you incorporate religion, religious leaders, and religious practices in your outreach methods? Explain in detail.
- Why is it important to consider religion when working in diverse communities to improve health? Give examples in your answer.
- Imagine you are asked to give advice to a young student who wishes to work in global health as a career. The student asks how he/she should prepare to consider religion in his/her future work. What is your response?
Personal and Community Health (Bridgewater College)
Professor Jill Lassiter
Course description: This course examines the multiple determinants of health and wellness from a personal and community perspective. Students will work toward obtaining knowledge and skills to critically analyze individual, social, and environmental factors that influence health, while focusing on their application to individual and community health improvement.
Learning outcomes for this course include:
- Demonstrate knowledge of the many factors that influence personal health choices (including religious and worldview considerations)
- Critically analyze social, religious, and political factors that impact personal and community health
- Develop strategies to initiate community change that are culturally sensitive and support healthy lifestyles
Sample course assignment: Perspectives paper
Over the course of the semester students reflect on their own role within the complex healthcare system. The outcome of this exploration and writing assignment is a clearer vision of themselves as healthcare consumers, providers, and community members.
Students are required to conduct a series of interviews with a specific set of questions. They must interview a healthcare provider, someone from their service learning site, and someone who has had a significant experience as a patient. All interviews must be oral, so that the conversation involves interaction and further questioning beyond the listed set of questions. In addition to notes on each interview, students must write a final synthesis paper, including self-reflection from the beginning and end of the semester in which students answer the questions: What is my role as a healthcare consumer, responsible citizen, and (eventual) healthcare provider? And how does my identity (social, family, demographic, etc.) impact my views about health? These final papers must comment on intersectionality and determinants of individual and community health.
- How do you feel about the current state of healthcare in the United States?
- What do you think is the impact of the community on the health of your patients/your health?
- How do your patients/you take personal responsibility for their/your health? What are some ways that they/you do not take personal responsibility for their/your health?
- How does faith play a role in health?
- How does provider personality, communication style, personal views, etc. impact patients?