Integration of Science and Practice (ISP)—small group sessions that are an integral component of the MPH curriculum—bridge the gap between traditional classroom education and the real-world experience of working as a public health professional.
The curriculum consists largely of case studies drawn from recent history and current events, providing opportunities for students to apply facts and information to solve complex problems and gain important professional skills like negotiation, persuasion, team thinking, public speaking, and critical judgment in the process.
Small interdisciplinary teams analyze cases under the guidance of a faculty member and teaching assistant. Over the course of three semesters, students build relationships with their ISP professor, teaching assistant, and other teammates as they grapple with challenges and dilemmas that have challenged practicing public health professionals.
Through these cases, students confront the tough questions of public health: What happens when programs intended to improve the health of a community conflict with local values and traditions? Where does state control end and individual liberty begin? In a world of ever-evolving scientific knowledge, when do we have adequate evidence to recommend policies that keep people safe?
Assignments come in the form of collaborative labs that hone problem solving-skills and the ability to apply public health theory to professional practice. Students may be asked to write a policy brief, identify what evidence is missing or necessary to make a decision, plan a media briefing, find citations in the scientific literature relevant to a case study, or identify the key aspects of an effective health intervention program.