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Population Thinking Instruction in High Schools: a Public Health Intervention with Triple Benefits

Journal of Urban Health
Emily M. D’Agostino, Nicholas Freudenberg
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America faces a series of intersecting problems that relate to health inequities, failing schools, and an inadequate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workforce, particularly in cities and among low-income Black and Latino youth. Here, we propose a solution, namely reforming secondary school education to include mandatory exposure to population thinking instruction to address these overlapping issues. Public health education has expanded in recent decades in undergraduate education, though it has yet to become an integral component of high school curricula. In this paper, we make the case that all youth should gain exposure to the skills of population thinking through public health education initiated in high school. We further provide a rationale for this approach drawn from multiple youth development frameworks and the community schools movement for honing youth critical thinking skills and problem solving relating to individual and community health, policy, and activism.

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