You cannot ever hope to scale the mountains of public health without getting some guidance from the Health Sherpa. This blog can help serve as a guide by providing loads of information and tips about the healthcare field.

50 Free Open Courseware Classes to Study Public Health

With the recent attention on public health and the health care reform debate, it is little surprise that many are interested learning more about the subject of health policy. If you work in public health, or if you are just interested in learning more about this interesting field of study, you can use open courseware to help you get a handle on the subject. There are a number of excellent free open courseware classes to help you study public health:

Basics of Public Health

Public HealthIf you are interested in the basic principles and practices behind public health, these open courseware classes are a good place to start:

  1. The History of Public Health: Johns Hopkins University takes you through the history of public health, and society organization so that health is a public matter.
  2. Medicine and Public Health in American History: Get an overview of the development of public health from this Notre Dame class.
  3. Ethical Issues in Public Health: Learn about the ethics that are a very real part of public health decisions and debates today.
  4. Public Health Seminar: Get interesting insights on a number of different public health topics when you learn from this course at UC Irvine.
  5. Public Health Preparedness & Emergency Response: UC Berkeley offers an insightful course aimed at help you understand emergency response and the part it plays in public health.
  6. Health Across the Life Span: Frameworks, Contexts and Measurements: Another course from Johns Hopkins, this class looks at our health throughout the life cycle, and how it impacts the rest of the public.
  7. Public Health Practice 101: This course is aimed specifically at helping public health workers learn basic terms and concepts. A great refresher course for professionals.
  8. Population Change and Public Health: Addresses issues of population growth and subsequent impacts on public health.
  9. Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health: Learn about the various aspects of public health that are involved in social settings and public health behavior.

Disease and Epidemiology

Disease face maskPublic health includes the tracking of disease outbreaks and understanding the nature of epidemics. These open courseware classes can help you better understand disease in the context of public health.

  1. Disease and Society in America: This MIT course looks at the development of disease as a public health issue.
  2. Principles of Human Disease: Learn about the basics of human disease, and explore ways to combat diseases today.
  3. Public Health Biology: Johns Hopkins University offers a look at biology from a public health perspective, allowing to explore disease at the molecular level.
  4. Impact of Pandemic Influenza on Public Health: Looks at public health issues arising from different types of flu pandemics.
  5. Coping with Mental Illness and Crafting Public Policy: UC Berkeley helps you understand the public health impacts of mental illness, and what can be done about it.
  6. STI Prevention: Using Epidemiology to Inform Policy and Program: This course looks at sexually transmitted illnesses, and how they relate to public health problems.
  7. Disease in the workplace: Connexions offers this fascinating look at disease in the workplace and health policies.
  8. Global Tobacco Control: This is an interesting course about tobacco and public health. After all, tobacco is the cause of illness and disease.

Public Health Policy & Law

health policy and lawPublic health policies are enacted in an effort to preserve the wider health of the population. And, of course, law is involved as well. Learn the parts policy and law play in public health.

  1. The Politics of Health Care: An introduction, from Columbia University, about the politics that go into health policy.
  2. Comparative Health Policy: MIT offers a look at public health policy in the U.S. and compares it with other countries.
  3. Introduction to Health Policy: An overview of health policy and public health in the United States.
  4. Introduction to Technical Communication: Perspectives on Medicine and Public Health: Learn about communication in the area of public health and policy.
  5. Poverty, Public Policy and Controversy: Many consider poverty a public health concern. This MIT class looks at poverty and public health.
  6. Measuring Health Disparities: The University of Michigan addresses health disparities, and how they are measured for public health policy reasons.
  7. Legal Issues Affecting the Terminally Ill Patient: Overview of terminal illness, public health and law from Case Western Reserve University.
  8. Law, Social Movements and Public Policy: Comparative and International Experience: Get a handle on how law and public policy are intertwined in the U.S. and other countries.

Environment and Health

PollutionAnother big public policy issues is the environment. And the environment is related to health. These courses address public policy and environmental concerns.

  1. Environmental Health: This enlightening course from Johns Hopkins University offers a basic overview of public health issues related to environmental concerns.
  2. The Politics of Pollution: Columbia University offers a look at pollution over the years, and its impact on public health.
  3. Biology of Water and Health: Tufts University offers this look at water quality and public health.
  4. Watermanagement: Another course on water and public health, this offering from TU Delft offers some insight on ensuring clean water for the public.
  5. Food Production, Public Health, and Environment: Explores the intersection between food, the environment and public health.
  6. Medical Ecology: Environmental Disturbance and Disease: A look at how changes in the environment can contribute to disease.
  7. Public Health Toxicology: Considers toxins in the environment, and addresses strategies for reducing them.
  8. Tropical Environmental Health: This is a course that looks at public health and environment issues in countries other than the U.S.
  9. Biological Agents of Water and Foodborne Bioterrorism: A look at how terrorists can use our environment against us, creating public health problems.


PharmaceuticalsThe pharmaceutical industry is one of the main topics of conversation in public health. Learn more about pharma with these interesting free open courseware classes.

  1. Principles of Drug Development: Learn basics of what goes into developing new drugs for the public.
  2. Principles and Practice of Drug Development: Another look at drug development, this course looks at it from a practical standpoint.
  3. Exploring Pharmacology: MIT looks at pharmacology and its role in our society.
  4. Principles of Pharmacology: Study pharmacological agents, and learn more about treatment of disease.
  5. Survey of Pharmacy: University of Utah looks at pharmacies, and their role in public health.
  6. Computer-aided Drug Discovery for Infectious Diseases: Learn how computers can aid pharma in the search for ways to control disease.
  7. Pharmaceuticals Management for Under-served Populations: Learn about public health issues related to limited access to drugs.
  8. Lecture Thirteen: Science, Ethics, and the (Pharmaceutical) Industry: Notre Dame offers this interesting course that traces drugs as part of our public health legacy.

Managed Care

Managed CarePart of public health is related to how we manage care, especially for the aging. These courses are on managing care, and on elder care.

  1. Population Medicine: Tufts University offers this look at medicine for populations and the public.
  2. Managed Care and Health Insurance: Johns Hopkins University offers this interesting look at public health, health insurance and managed care.
  3. Introduction to Methods for Health Services Research and Evaluation: Public health officials can learn more about evaluating services.
  4. Health Issues for Aging Populations: Consider the public health issues that come with a population that is aging.
  5. Managing Long-Term Care Services for Aging Populations: Managed care and elderly populations.
  6. Neurology, Neuropsychology, and Neurobiology of Aging: Learn what happens when we age, and learn how to address it from a public health standpoint.
  7. Aging and disability: transitions into residential care: The Open University helps you understand how to effect transitions for different populations.
  8. Living with death and dying: Another course from The Open University, this one focuses on public health responses to dying.
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