Student Life

Community Health Elective


The community health elective provides a conceptual framework and introduction to specific methodologies for health professionals to engage with community members to effectively address the medical, social and structural determinants of health. It builds relationships across the university and into the community, while introducing approaches to community engaged scholarship, including population health management, asset based community development, community based participatory research, community oriented primary care, service learning, advocacy and policy narrative.


Designed for medical students interested in the Scholarship and Discovery Community Health Track and interested others, we:

  1. Explore the role of social, societal and global environmental factors in producing health
  2. Learn how doctors and other professionals can be part of this process
  3. Understand community health issues on the South Side of Chicago,with special attention to the priority topics defined through the UCM's community health needs assessment: violence, sexual health, asthma, obesity, diabetes, cancer and access to care.
  4. Meet academic leaders and community leaders who work together to understand, address, and advocate for healthy solutions
  5. Explore our own roles in building healthier communities--on the South Side, in America, and the world.

Coursework consists of weekly readings, reflections, class attendance, and community outreach. We explore the role of universities in partnering with communities, with weekly panels including speakers from the medical center, university and community addressing priority health issues.There are visits to community organizations. Attendance is required at a Community Grand Rounds, and optional at the Urban Health Initiative Summit. We learn about and practice the different forms of community engaged scholarship with all students conducting and presenting an independent or group community health service-learning project, preparation for community engaged research, or a policy/advocacy paper.