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The 5 Best Open Online Courses in Public Health and Policy

Workers in the public health field protect and improve the health of communities by conducting research on disease and injury prevention, promoting healthy living and preventing health problems before they occur. Hailing from a wide range of disciplines, public health professionals include epidemiologists, behavioral scientists, environmental health specialists, educators and even policy advisors working with lawmakers. With the wealth of open source courseware available, it has never been easier to study public health and policy.

Best Open Public Health Classes

Environmental Politics and Law

Requiring no registration, students interested in public health policy can learn from the best with this course offered online for free through Yale University. Covering a wide range of topics from plastics and pesticides to consumer products and drinking water standards, students learn about the importance of strong policies and laws in the protection of public health.

Fundamentals of Epidemiology I and II

Offered through the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (JHSPH), the two fundamentals courses introduce the basics of biostatistics and epidemiology. Foundational principles and methods of the field are covered, including classical statistics and methods of summarizing and displaying data. Part II focuses on tailoring study design to researching particular public health issues.

Introduction to Integrated Water Resource Management

Over three million people die each year from water-related diseases. With this course offered by the United Nations University, students learn how to establish and implement an integrated plan for managing precious clean water resources. Including guidance on how to best establish effective policies and procedures, this practical guide provides needed instruction on how to manage this vital resource.

One Health: Interdisciplinary Approaches to People, Animals and the Environment

With this course, Tufts University focuses on the complex relationship between the world’s diverse organisms and their environments. Particular areas covered include the emergence and re-emergence of disease as new habitats are cleared and climate changes; the ways in which ecosystems are compromised by the pressure of increased human population; and the ways in which genetically engineered organisms spread and impact the environment.

The Black Death

The great intellectual George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” For this reason, public health professionals study mankind’s history of confronting epidemics and other public health disasters. With this lecture offered by Gresham College, students can download the transcript, video or audio lecture and even view a PDF presentation. Ranging from the sixth century to the nineteenth, students learn how differing community responses to the bubonic plague set the stage for the development of public health initiatives.

Best Online Open Courses

Students interested in the field of public health should explore a broad range of academic disciplines. A number of prominent universities and even a few private organizations have free open courseware and classes.

Coursera offers free courses from 33 universities including Stanford, The Ohio State University, the University of Michigan, CalTech and Duke. Students can find classes in a wide array of disciplines including Food and Nutrition, Music, Film and Audio Engineering, Statistics, Data Analysis and Scientific Computing.

Edx free classes come from such prestigious schools as Harvard, Berkeley and MIT. Course offerings focus on the hard sciences including computer science, programming and graphics, artificial intelligence and chemistry. Notably, a course in Quantitative Methods in Clinical and Public Health Research is offered, as well. Edx cautions that in the future, there may be a fee for obtaining certification.

Udacity course offerings are similar to those found on Edx, with a strong focus on the hard sciences. Students can take beginner, intermediate and advanced courses in computer science, programming, software and web development and testing, artificial intelligence and cryptography. Unlike Coursera and Edx, Udacity is a private venture where courses are taught by roboticists, educators and engineers.

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