Course Syllabus

Course Description

Public Health and Informatics provides an overview of the evolving field of public health informatics. Basic public health topics will be reviewed including: public health history, structure and functions, public health data, surveillance, epidemiology, environmental health, health communications, and global health informatics. Information systems and tools relevant to key public health areas will be covered.  We learn about community health assessments and will investigate the use of public health data to monitor the health of the community. The course will cover informatics issues of particular importance to public health, such as data and vocabulary standards, syndromic surveillance systems, policy, privacy and security, interoperability, data integration, organizational change, health information exchange, and meaningful use. The course content will be delivered through a combination of didactic lectures, presentations, in class exercises, and discussions. Students will gain experience in investigating and evaluating informatics solutions to public health problems.

Course Objectives

At the completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Describe the mission and practice of public health
  2. Describe fundamental informatics principles and their application to public health.
  3. Define data and vocabulary standards relevant to public health and health information system interoperability.
  4. Describe current and evolving public health surveillance systems and perform a basic system evaluation.
  5. Describe emerging challenges and opportunities for sharing data between clinical and public health information systems.
  6. Perform an assessment of the health of a community through analysis of existing data and stakeholder  interviews

Course Overview

The first part of the class will cover the domain of public health and surveillance to provide background of the field. We will then investigate public health data and informatics issues pertinent to managing, integrating and securing public health data. Over the quarter your community assessment project will apply skills discuss in class including community assessment, data summarization, evaluation and data visualization.

The assigned readings, modules and website reviews for each class should be completed before each class session, so that you are able to discuss them in class. If you have any questions about the content of the readings please post them on the discussion board or ask them in class.  

A summary of the weekly course topics, readings and assignments is on the course website on the home page under Course Schedule.


The assigned weekly readings, website reviews, and online modules are posted on the course schedule and the course website. Readings and assigned modules should be completed before class.


Written Assignments

All written assignments should be professionally and academically written. Please check for grammar, spelling, and flow prior to submitting. Papers should have titles and include an introduction, body, conclusion, and references. For written assignments an outline format is not acceptable. The file name for the assignment document should include your last name (or group name) and the assignment number.


  1. Homework Assignments (HW)- includes two assignments related to topics covered in class
  2. Community Health Assessment (CHA)- includes 3 papers, a key informant interview, and final presentation
  3. NWCPHP Modules – includes completion of two online modules
  4. Discussion- student leads and participates in discussions


Students will be evaluated on the following:

  1. Course homework assignments (6%)
  2. NWCPHP Modules (4%)
  3. CHA assignments
    • Project 1A Community Assessment - Group (15%)
    • Project 1B Key Informant Interview Summary (5%)
    • Project 2 Evaluation of Surveillance Systems - Individual (20%)
    • Project 3 Group Paper (15%)
    • Project 4 Group presentation (10%)
  4. Student-led weekly discussion (10%)
  5. Class participation and discussion board responses (15%)

Attendance Your participation is key to the success of the class. Please arrive on time. The class discussions depend on the attendance and contributions of all students. Please let me know if you will not be able to make a class.

Missed class policy:

  1. Missing one class is acceptable.
  2. Missing two classes will require an extra assignment.
  3. Missing more than two classes will result in a grade penalty.

Laptops – You can use laptops for class related activities only.  Please do not check email and work on assignments etc. during class. Students may be asked to bring laptops for specific exercises.

Course Summary:

Date Details