Education Highlight – John J. Lowe, PhD, is an assistant professor in the UNMC COPH Department of Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health. His teaching focuses on environmental science and core public health topics, including the public health system, ecological framework for determinants of health, core functions of public health, public health ethics, and interventions and emergency preparedness. Dr. Lowe teaches
ENV 970 Doctoral Seminar in Environmental, Agricultural and Occupational Health
CPH 500 / HPRO 830 Foundations in Public Health
He assisted Dr. Sharon Medcalf and Dr. Philip Smith in developing core courses for the Master of Science in Emergency Preparedness. Dr. Lowe has been with the department since July 2013.
Dr. Lowe’s teaching philosophy is grounded in a desire to develop students through personal exchange that elicits student engagement and fosters academic growth. This student-centered approach to learning and educating is central to each of Dr. Lowe’s courses. “Public health as a discipline presents a number of potential focus areas that can lead to silos within the discipline. I strive to nurture learning environments that enable and promote students to personally connect beyond their primary discipline to develop their own understanding of public health as a whole.” To do this, he places a significant level of course content in the hands of students to synthesize through writing, presenting, and group discussion. He states this can be a “challenging method of teaching” as many students have specialized backgrounds and a great deal of passion for public health issues.
Dr. Lowe’s Foundations of Public Health course addresses the arduous task of introducing the breadth and complexity of what defines public health. He sees success in this course when students express a newfound understanding of the public health system that will enable them to explain with ease just what public health is. Dr. Lowe highly values the ability of students to navigate complex issues in an academic manner through writing and presenting. As many predominant public health issues are politically charged, Dr. Lowe appreciates a student’s ability to articulate an informed position as a critical asset for their future endeavors. Dr. Lowe employs a variety of written and verbal assessments to help students hone the ability to craft informed public health opinions. Dr. Lowe says this approach also provides insight into how each student is processing the course material beyond what can be achieved through didactic lectures, exams, and quizzes. To accomplish this, he teaches students to understand the core functions of the public health system and to recognize the value of an interdisciplinary ecological approach to addressing health issues. He then provides the students with opportunities to apply these concepts to address pressing public health issues. Dr. Lowe’s aspiration is to provide students with an understanding of public health that equals their passion to pursue a career in public health.