In July 2020, the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), in collaboration with AJPH’s Student Think Tank, sent out a call for student papers regarding student perspectives on COVID-19 and its impact on the future of public health. Twelve submissions, a mix of comments and editorials, were accepted for publication. Of those accepted was a commentary titled “Public Health is Political: A Student’s View on a Necessary Shift in Public Health Curricula” written by two recent San Diego State University (SDSU) Master of Public Health (MPH) graduates, Sally P. Windisch and Fitri Carrissa Wijaya of the Division of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science. Windisch and Wijaya’s comment offers a student perspective on the challenges of promoting health behaviors, such as mask wearing, to resistant groups, particularly people whose resistance has been shaped by the politicization of scientific evidence. The commentary discusses the importance of training future public health practitioners, scholars, and advocates on political engagement and why such efforts should be seen as necessary, rather than radical, in planning and implementing evidence-based recommendations. The authors urge public health education programs to acknowledge the inherently political nature of public health research and practice, and prepare students in how to engage in effective conversations and collaborations across ideological differences. The commentary can be accessed via this LINK.
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