Online Teaching of Public Health and Spirituality at University of Illinois: Chaplains for the Twenty-First Century
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Our online course, Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Critical Examination, was developed as part of a project which is supporting chaplain-research fellows to get an MPH or MS degree. The course, which was taught for the first time in 2016, is offered in the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health. Because the chaplain research fellows lived in cities around the United States, the course was taught using a teleconferencing format. The course had four broad aims: (1) to identify key findings and debates in the growing literature about religion and health, (2) to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of studies of religion, spirituality and health, (3) to explore the findings on religious diversity, and (4) to apply the studies to the research efforts and clinical work of chaplains and public health workers. Our students were MPH students from around the country, so an online format – that included weekly synchronous meetings and periodic asynchronous discussion boards – was key to the success of meeting these goals. Our preliminary evaluation of the course is that the online format, mixed synchronous asynchronous learning methods, and syllabus were effective ways of teaching content that bridges public health, religion, and spirituality.
KeywordsReligion Spirituality Health MPH Public health Healthcare Health practitioners Social determinants Coping-illness Chaplain Spiritual care
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