UGA introduces Strategic Health & Risk Communication certificate

Moving to address the growing demand for professional health communicators, UGA is introducing an interdisciplinary certificate in Strategic Health & Risk Communication. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and the College of Public Health are partnering to educate undergraduate students in communication principles needed to address public health issues.

“Health communication presents a huge opportunity for us to team with the College of Public Health in an offering tailored made for these times,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. “It leverages the deep expertise in health communication at Grady with our research facilities in message testing and refinement.”

The SHRC certificate program is an 18-hour credit program featuring specialized classes from the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in Grady College and the Department of Health Promotion and Behavior in the College of Public Health. The curriculum includes foundational courses in health communications as well as courses studying human behavior, marketing strategies, message design, conducting research, and campaign management, among others.

The program has been in development for a few years, and while the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the introduction, it has also highlighted the relevance and importance of health communications at the same time.

“Timing couldn’t be better to introduce this program,” said Jeong-Yeob Han, associate professor of advertising and director of the new SHRC certificate program. “Risk communication is a global topic and the U.S. population, specifically, is getting older. Interest is skyrocketing in everything from healthy eating and exercise to vaccines and, of course, the pandemic. There will be a lot more jobs in this sector in coming years and our students will be knowledgeable and ready.”

Christina Proctor, clinical associate professor for health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, emphasized the societal impact this program will have.

“We expect students to come out of the program ready to illustrate the process of developing empirically-informed health communication campaigns for public health purposes,” Proctor said. “In addition, students will have the opportunity to practice the application of strategic public health communication through project-based and experiential learning opportunities.”

The SHRC certificate provides a balanced education in communications and public health, and four core courses will be required including:

  • ADPR 5110 Advertising, Public Relations, and Health
  • ADPR 5742/7742 Health & Risk Communication Campaigns
  • HPRB 1710 Health and Wellness
  • HPRB 5310(E) Introduction to Public Health Communication

Students will then have elective options ranging from crisis communication and brand storytelling to the effects of drug use and issues in women’s health.

Also special to this program is the opportunity for students to participate in the Cannes Lions Festival study abroad program in France in the summer.

“There are a lot of health-related clients who attend Cannes Lions and many conversations taking place related to these topics, so this is a great avenue for our students to be exposed to fresh ideas and new trends,” Han said.

Students will complete their coursework with a capstone class where they will be asked to address a health-related need and create a campaign.

“The SHRC certificate is one more example of our college’s growth in health and risk expertise,” said Bryan Reber, the C. Richard Yarbrough Professor in Crisis Communication Leadership. “As the home of the Center for Health & Risk Communications, we are well-positioned to educate students in messaging, while the College of Public Health is a foremost authority in social and behavioral aspects. This certificate is a natural fit.”

Application requirements for Grady College students can be found on the Grady SHRC registration page.

Application requirements for College of Public Health students can be found on the CPH SHRC registration page.

More details about the program can be found on the SHRC webpage.

Read the original story on the Grady College website.

– Sarah Freeman

Posted on March 3, 2021.