Faculty at the University of Washington School of Public Health developed an MPH program that departs significantly from traditional graduate training. They initially sought a pedagogy rooted in adult learning theory and social justice that would prepare courageous problem solvers and excellent critical thinkers. The first step toward this goal was selection of the problem-based learning method to replace the lecture mode. Faculty secured funds to support training in writing PBL cases and facilitating PBL groups, designing a curriculum, and developing administrative processes. They created a two-year curriculum that covers all the core competencies of public health through PBL cases, which are in part shaped by community partners. Fifteen years later, the program that resulted from this effort—the MPH in Community-Oriented Public Health Practice—continues to prepare public health professionals who demonstrate exceptional skills in self-discovery, leadership, teamwork, and collective analysis.
Keywords: Adult learning theory, Community, Curriculum, Critical thinking, Education, MPH, Pedagogy, Practice, Problem-based learning, Public health.