Community development is a key concern of public health and a central focus of the MPH in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice (COPHP) curriculum. Our community development blocks, which occur in both the first and second year of COPHP, introduce students to the challenges of working with communities on issues related to health. These blocks are intense for faculty and students alike because they must cover in a short period a broad range of material that spans sociology, organizational theory, epidemiology, and psychology. They also require students to make quick connections between a growing body of research literature and real word community challenges; entail organizing and conducting fieldwork with community partners; and expose students to provocative ideas and norms. The COPHP program has achieved considerable success with its community development blocks in meeting learning objectives that address issues such as defining and applying a true concept of community in a variety of settings; recognizing communities’ assets and problems; describing approaches to getting things done at the community level and assembling a team to do them; and completing strong written assignments on tight deadlines. Through the community development blocks and student projects, the COPHP program has built enduring connections with community partners and has helped address local challenges ranging from securing housing and health services for homeless youth to accommodating the needs of recent immigrants in disaster preparedness.
Keywords: Cognitive distortions, Communications skills, Community, Community assets, Community based participatory research, Community development, Community organizing, Community partners, Practical applications of theory, Project planning, Public health practice, Student presentations.