IU students take a first-hand look at public health advocacy and policy-making

Post by IU Communications colleague Milana Katic:

IU Students' "Day at the Capitol"

On Jan. 29, a group of IU Master of Public Health students gathered at the Indiana Statehouse for the American Cancer Society’s “Day at the Capitol.”

A delegation of Indiana University master’s degree students from the School of Public Health-Bloomington and the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI participated in the American Cancer Society’s “Day at the Capitol,” on Jan. 29 in Indianapolis.

The day was organized by the society’s Cancer Action Network to communicate with Indiana lawmakers about making cancer prevention a public policy priority. IU students travelled to the Indiana Statehouse (made easier by the new Campus Commute shuttle) to experience advocacy coalition building and legislative engagement first-hand.

Beth Meyerson, assistant professor of health policy and management in the Department of Applied Health Science at the School of Pubic Health-Bloomington, led the delegation. Field learning, she says, is central to her teaching approach.

“This was an opportunity to let students learn about the policy process in the community classroom,” Meyerson said. “My teaching philosophy is that people can learn in the classroom all day long, but they really come to understand and internalize concepts when they have the opportunity experience them.”

Beth Meyerson

Beth Meyerson, faculty at the School of Public Health-Bloomington, led the delegation.

While many students who participated in the “Day at the Capitol” are taking Meyerson’s advanced graduate seminar course “Public Health Policy and Politics,” she also invited Master of Public Health candidates outside of her classroom, from both the Bloomington and Indianapolis IU campuses. In this way, she created a bit of a cross-campus coalition.

Stephen Wyatt, president of the Master of Public Health Assembly at IU Bloomington, was one of those students eager to get involved with the project despite not being a current student in Meyerson’s public health policy course. His reasons for joining were a bit more personal.

“Originally I was just interested in learning the policy process, but when I found out what the event was about, it hit home for me,” Wyatt said. “I have had many individuals in my life that have had cancer. Many of them lost their battle, and I feel that, as a family and friend of theirs studying public health, it should be my duty to advocate for policies dealing with cancer.”

Along with participating in the advocacy and policy-making process throughout the day, Meyerson also gathered the students afterwards for a discussion.

Classmates, community and a good cause – another day spent meaningfully by IU students.

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