Pilot Testing the Public Health Learning Agenda Toolkit

The Public Health Learning Agenda for Systems Change Toolkit (www.publichealthlearningagenda.org) provides an innovative, action-oriented process for public health organizations, their partners, and communities to use transformative learning as a driver for systems change to address complex health equity and population health challenges.

There are no known U.S. workforce development frameworks for designing the collective learning and action required to bring about systems change. In response, in 2019, the HRSA-funded Regional Public Health Training Centers (PHTCs) and the University of Illinois at Chicago Policy, Practice, and Prevention Research Center (P3RC) developed an innovative resource entitled, Creating a Learning Agenda for Systems Change: A Toolkit for Building an Adaptive Public Health Workforce (The Learning Agenda Toolkit, version 1.0).

The Learning Agenda Toolkit (available for free from www.publichealthlearningagenda.org) includes a conceptual Learning Framework and planning tools for teams of public health professionals and their community partners to align learning with adaptive community challenges. Together, these teams work through an action-oriented process to use transformative and collective learning as a driver for systems change.

The Learning Agenda Toolkit was piloted in Summer 2021 with 24 diverse teams from health departments, academic, and other public health organizations. Our article highlights key findings from the pilot evaluation and recommendations for revision toward a Learning Agenda 2.0. Here is a snapshot of our findings.

  • Pilot Evaluation findings suggest the majority of pilot testers found the Learning Agenda Toolkit provided an intentional process that fostered discussions on root causes and used a step-by-step process that produced a concrete product for learning. Further, the Learning Agenda Toolkit fostered team togetherness and provided a unique systems change focus.
  • Opportunities for improvement of the Learning Agenda Toolkit were several:
    • Participants noted that the Learning Agenda Toolkit was designed for experienced individuals and needs to be accessible to a wider audience with plain language, graduated concepts from basic to advanced, and connection to existing tools and processes (e.g., MAPP).
    • Readiness to engage in systems thinking and the Learning Agenda Toolkit process needs to be expanded and community engagement needs to be emphasized.
    • Finally, the Learning Agenda Toolkit needs to be more-easily actionable, with more instructions and resources for implementing the resulting learning opportunity.

What are the next steps? With recommendations from the Learning Agenda Toolkit Pilot, the PHTC and P3RC Learning Agenda Leadership Team is revising the Learning Agenda 2.0 and will announce its release on our website.

Read Our Article in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice:

Christina R. Welter, DrPH, MPH (she/her) is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Health Policy and Administration Division at the University of Illinois Chicago, School of Public Health where she also serves as the Director of the Doctor in Public Health Leadership Program and the Associate Director of the Policy, Practice, and Prevention Research Center.

Sarah Davis (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director at the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center, based in the Center for Public Health Practice at the Colorado School of Public Health. Sarah holds a Masters in Nonprofit Management, with a concentration in Education. Her professional background includes coalition work for policy change, training, and learning development.

Phoebe K. G. Kulik, MPH, CHES, is the Senior Director of Workforce Development for the Region V Public Health Training Center; Public Health Prepared; and the Office of Public Health Practice at the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

Laura M. Lloyd, MPH, MCHES, the Associate Director of the Region IV Public Health Training Center, oversees all professional training programs for the public health workforce in the 8 southeastern states in HHS Region IV, including skill-based trainings, live/on-demand webinars, the regional Leadership Institute, self-paced modules and field placements. Laura is also the Applied Practice Experience Advisor for the Executive MPH program for the Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University.

Karla Todd Barrett is the Senior Program Manager and Training Specialist at the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH). She manages overall operations and partnerships for the HRSA-funded New England Public Health Training Center (NEPHTC), including training development and delivery, data analysis, reporting, and governance.

Cassidy K. Ray (she/her/hers) MPH serves as a Senior Project Coordinator for the Rocky Mountain Public Health Training Center within the Center for Public Health Practice. She is interested in projects that focus on fostering inclusivity through collective labor and culture change, as well as influencing systems change.

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