SPHHP Collaborates on Coursera Series Leading to Public Health Crisis Skills

leadership in public health coursera specialization.

Published July 2, 2021

Profound health-related emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic can test the most seasoned leaders, but a collaboration among the University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Albany and Stony Brook University aims to help public health and other professionals lead effectively during such crises.

Faculty from the three universities are taking part in the new Coursera-offered specialization “Leadership for Public Health Crises.” The special series of three courses focuses on giving leaders skills—such as crisis communication, emergency management and interprofessional teamwork--to direct their organizations’ response to major health-related emergencies. Coursera partners with more than 200 universities and companies worldwide to offer a range of learning opportunities to people and organizations—from hands-on projects and courses to certificates and degree programs.

“Leadership for Public Health Crises offers people an opportunity to be expand their knowledge in leadership as it relates to public health,” said Gregory Homish, professor and chair in SPHHP's Department of Community Health and Health Behavior, who helped develop the specialization. “The flexible online platform is ideal for traditional students but also working professionals. This also can serve as a foundation for further graduate education in public health.” UB offers a master of public health degree in both in-person and fully online formats.

The three specialization courses are:

  • Communication and Leadership during a Public Health Crisis, taught by SPHHP Clinical Assistant Professor Jessica Kruger, PhD, CHES. Kruger will focus on developing effective communication skills that can lead a team through conflict and crisis while building strategies to reach a common goal.
  • Disaster, Crisis, and Emergency Preparedness Communication, taught by Samantha Penta, PhD, assistant professor in the University of Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity. Penta will introduce the basic concepts of emergency management, planning, and crisis risk communication, as well as helping participants understand the nature of different kinds of extreme events and the disruptions they can cause for communities affected by them.
  • Connect with Diverse Audiences during a Public Health Crisis, taught by Brenda Hoffman, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Communication and Journalism at Stony Brook University. Hoffman’s course emphasizes the value of segmenting audiences in order to tailor crisis messages effectively, including looking at underlying biases and leveraging persuasive communications strategies.

In addition to the courses, students of the special series will undertake a hands-on learning project. At the close of their work, they will receive a certificate they can share with employers and their professional network.

To find out more about the new specialization, visit Coursera or watch the video.