Principles of Community Engagement in Public Health

Teaching & Engagement, 2014


The primary aim of this project was to develop a new, online public health course for undergraduates enrolled at rural Nebraska campuses. The proposed course would focus on three themes aligned with RFI’s mission: community-based participatory research (CBPR), civic engagement (CE), and service learning (SL). Framed through the lens of public health, the ultimate goals of the curriculum are to provide a foundation of knowledge and action that supports the learning and capacity building in the three domains of a cohort of rural undergraduate students who have made a commitment to practice as health professionals in rural Nebraska. The curriculum also seeks to facilitate the learning of the students in how to become effective leaders, advocates, and change agents for their rural communities to achieve paths to their desired futures.


In addition to addressing the dearth of undergraduate student coursework on rural Nebraska campuses in the domains of community-based participatory research (CBPR), civic engagement (CE), and service learning (SL), additional on-line modules on leadership, worksite wellness, and public health were also included. The course was taught online by the Faculty PI, Dr. Kyle Ryan, at Peru State College. The course was shifted from a service learning focus due to the online nature of the course and associated complexity and challenges with identifying service learning sites for students taking the course outside of Nebraska.

Project personnel approached Chadron State College, Wayne State College and the University of Nebraska at Kearney to ascertain adoption at the respective campuses. Each has expressed interest and efforts are ongoing to implement the course offerings at these additional rural campuses.

Project Team










Media Coverage


Contact: Kyle Ryan,