Campus News

New course to examine incarceration through public health lens


Published January 18, 2019 This content is archived.


Researchers in the School of Public Health and Health Professions (SPHHP) recently received funds to create a new course that will examine incarceration through the lens of public health.

The $5,000 seed grant from the Incarceration and Public Health Action Network (IPHAN) at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health will support the course, which is aimed at educating students about public health issues surrounding mass incarceration, while also providing experiential learning opportunities to supplement students’ work in class.

“In this undergraduate course, we will examine incarceration in the United States with a public health lens by examining ways in which public health researchers and practitioners can effectively respond to health-related issues associated with incarceration,” says Sarahmona Przybyla, assistant professor and interim director of undergraduate public health programs in SPHHP.

Formally “PUB 450: Incarceration and Public Health,” the course will investigate the system of incarceration, social and behavioral factors that contribute to incarceration, health problems that affect prisoners during incarceration and post incarceration, and community re-entry. Additionally, the course will examine the role that racial inequality plays in the criminal justice process.

The grant submission was written by Przybyla and Jessica Kruger, clinical assistant professor in the Department of Community Health and Health Behavior. The upper-level course is targeted toward undergraduate public health majors and minors, and is tentatively slated to begin in the fall 2019 semester, with 40 seats available for registration. Students will be assessed on their learning outcomes with a variety of methods including a podcast assignment, infographic assignment and research paper.

According to the Mailman School’s website, the school has “a strong commitment to adding the voice of public health leaders and practitioners to the dialogue and growing movement to address our nation’s crisis around mass incarceration and the need for new approaches to promoting health, justice and safety in our families, communities and systems.”

The IPHAN program awards $5,000 for new courses and $2,500 to schools looking to refine existing courses.