Teaching & Learning Methods

Photo by Tara Rava Zolnikov

Why It Matters  |  What We Are Doing  |  Who Is Involved



Why It Matters

The median age of the world’s population is 29 years. One in three global citizens and a quarter of the U.S. population are from Generation Y – a group often referred to as The Millennials – born between 1981 and 2000.  They and their successors are the world’s present reality and its future hope.  In public health, we aim to prepare today’s students, many of whom are millennials, to be the energetic, decisive, strong leaders upon whom the world increasingly will depend. We need to equip them with critical public health skills along with the ability to think creatively, work collaboratively, and act as entrepreneurs and innovators. We need to reach out across the globe, finding new ways to expand our teaching to achieve maximum range and  impact.


What We Are Doing

We prepare our students to connect academic study with real-world problems and solutions. Students and visiting academics from around the globe learn from and emulate Gillings School faculty’s abilities to make innovative use of technology in the classroom, continually adapt and improve teaching methods, and actively advise and mentor students. We prepare our graduates to make immediate contributions when they enter their chosen fields. Read More

One non-profit from India summed it up by saying:  “Gillings School students are the best interns we have ever had, because your school teaches them to solve problems.” Because of our unique focus on teaching, Gillings School graduates are sought-after employees by businesses, government, academia and the non-profit sector. Our faculty anticipates the challenges students will face in the workforce and help them build the confidence to pursue their goals.

The collegiate, respectful and nurturing environment at the Gillings School supports students to be the best they can be.  Master teachers among our faculty can be counted on by students to be resources and to create an academic environment that is simultaneously rigorous and relaxed.  Our faculty make it clear to students that learning in the classroom goes both ways – they learn from students about what works and continuously improve the way they teach.

Our faculty also includes experts in online education. We use a variety of learning methods, technologies and content delivery options tailored to the particular learning objectives of a program, whether it’s an academic course for graduate students or a continuing education opportunity for working professionals.

We created the world’s first Executive DrPH program, a model that attracts and trains a global group of world-class leaders and has inspired other schools to adopt a similar approach. Our program’s unique design permits mid- to senior-level health professionals around the world to remain in-country, working full-time in their communities, where they are needed most, while completing a rigorous, highly competitive doctoral degree program.

We also have a top-ranked online master’s degree program in health administration (MHA), which trains health care professionals in management, quality improvement and health systems design. This is one of the oldest distance programs of its kind in the country, on the leading edge of applying technology to distance learning for nearly 40 years. We assist Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, UAE, to design and teach their Executive Master’s in Healthcare Administration, and also worked with the Health Management International in Singapore to design and teach their Graduate Diploma in Healthcare Management. In France, we support curriculum development and teaching in the global MPH program in the EHESP French national school of public health. Our faculty collaborates with schools worldwide to share their expertise and teaching talents.

We provide a growing range of certification and other learning opportunities so that students from across the U.S. and around the world can pursue their professional development goals. For example, the Gillings Global Implementation Lab is a three credit hour, graduate-level, interdisciplinary, field-based course in which teams of students design and implement solutions to complex public health problems, working in partnership with organizations in the U.S. and abroad. The Gillings School’s Center for Global Learning provides customized, flexible, non-degree online programs to meet the specific learning needs of individual organizations worldwide.

UNC has partnered with Coursera, an online education provider, to offer noncredit courses online at no cost. One of the first massive open online courses, or MOOCs, from UNC is offered by the Gillings School and taught by two of our faculty.  It is titled “Epidemiology: The Basic Science of Public Health”. Over 7000 people are taking this course. About 43% are from North America, and impressive numbers have also signed on from Africa, Asia, Europe, Oceania and South America.

Our North Carolina Institute for Public Health, part of the Gillings School, serves as a bridge between academia and partners in community organizations and government agencies. Since the 1930’s, UNC public health has delivered education, training and professional development services and programs to public health practitioners in North Carolina, the region, the nation and the world.

At the Gillings School, local health is global health, and vice versa – our global and residential courses inform and enrich our teaching and enable all our students, residential or online, to benefit from a curriculum that keeps pace with increasing globalization.

Who Is Involved

Our leaders in teaching and learning methods come from across the Gilling School, and include our world-class faculty, staff, post-docs and students. This overview only captures a fraction of the important research, teaching, and public service efforts in teaching and learning methods at the Gillings School. Please explore the individual leader descriptions to learn more about their work.