Advocate | Connect | Transform
A- Advocating on issues significant to local communities
C- Connecting students to meaningful public health practice experiences
T- Transforming learning and practice in the field
Preparing the future public health workforce and providing them with tangible tools and experiences to ensure success, all while benefiting our communities in real-time is of the utmost importance. The ACTion Lab, created by the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement (OPHPE), affirms this and supports the mission and vision of UTHealth Houston School of Public Health by connecting students with learning and experiential opportunities in the community and translating the school’s values into action.
Listen to the Beyond Boundaries podcast presented by the ACTion Lab!
The Beyond Boundaries podcast is produced by the ACTion Lab at the School of Public Health. Beyond Boundaries explores the people, places, and policies impacting health and well-being throughout Texas and beyond. Listen to each episode as we focus on topics related to gaining equity, challenging the status quo, and transforming the work of public health.
Listen to the podcast to the Beyond Boundaries podcast here.
The UTHealth Houston School of Public Health ACTion Lab is intentionally designed to:
- Prepare School of Public Health students for meaningful community engagement.
- Connect students with community-based opportunities that can fulfill practicum or Integrative Learning Experience (ILE) degree requirements, support student research, or provide general hands-on experience. With a focus on topics critical to preparing students for real-world public health settings, the ACTion Lab serves to train students on how to advocate alongside others on issues of significance to local communities, connect students to meaningful public health practice experiences, and transform learning by doing in the field (i.e. ACT).
Mission and Values
The ACTion Lab seeks to bring UTHealth Houston School of Public Health Core Values, Mission, and Vision to life for our students and the communities we serve.
Values in Action
Provide opportunities for students to engage in action-based experiences that help influence decisions impacting health and social well-being among Texas’ most marginalized groups.
Ensure the work of the ACTion Lab (activities, training, experiences, partners, and projects) 1) targets injustices stemming from structural racism and other forms of inequity (classism, sexism, ableism, ageism) and unjust policies and practices and 2) actively involves those individuals and groups most impacted by each targeted health issue.
Provide opportunities in which faculty members, community members, and students become co-learners and co-generators of knowledge and facilitate dissemination through broad channels, both traditional (academic journals, white papers) and non-traditional (podcasts, community talks, vlogs).
Actions and Activities
Training, Education and Service-Learning
Are you looking for ways to broaden your understanding and strengthen your skills? Then the ACTion Lab is for you!
The ACTion provides students a connection to programming and learning opportunities focused on equity, advocacy, and authentic engagement.
By engaging with the ACTion Lab, students will enjoy:
- Workshops, speaker series, and other events (open to all)
- Online educational training modules (open to all)
- Connection to Service-learning Opportunities and Fellowships (application may be required)
- Completion certificate opportunities
Workshops and Speaker Series
The ACTion Lab hosts an annual schedule of relevant topical workshops and speaker series. These include, but are not limited to, training on key topics (message framing, racial equity transformation, collective leadership), book club discussions, invited speakers, and more. All events are open to the School of Public Health, and to the community to allow students to learn in collaboration with community partners in co-learning spaces.
For information on upcoming events, visit the UTHealth Houston School of Public Health events calendar.
Online Educational Training Modules
The ACTion Lab provides training for UTHealth Houston School of Public Health students on topics relevant to successful community-based transformative engagement. In collaboration with faculty and community partners, we aim to offer online modules on the following topics in the coming year:
- Community Engagement
ACTion Lab modules are available to all UTHealth School of Public Health students who wish to pursue them. Access to the modules can be granted upon request. As the ACTion lab grows, additional modules critical to the work of the Lab will be developed. To request access, complete the ACTion Lab Online Educational Training Modules Request Form. All questions can be directed to ACTionLab@uth.tmc.edu.
The ACTion Lab facilitates the connection of students with service-learning opportunities of importance to both the student and the community. These opportunities are available to all students and can be pursued over a half-day, multiple days, or weekend. Depending on the need of the community partner, some may extend over a week.
Completion Certificates - Coming Soon!
The ACTion Lab provides the opportunity for students to earn a certificate of completion for their time and effort committed to learning and working with communities. To earn a certificate of completion, students are asked to:
- Attend one event hosted by the ACTion Lab
- Complete all online educational modules
- Participate in one community engagement experience (Service-learning Opportunity, Graduate Fellowship)
- Produce a reflection portfolio comprised of a one-page written document and a short video synopsis highlighting their educational and practice-based experience and relevant personal and/or professional development
The ACTion Lab hosts a series of documentary film screenings on various public health issues specifically pertaining to topics surrounding health equity, disability, violence/abuse, incarceration, sexual health, mental health, aging, and more. The ACTion Lab film screenings are followed by a guided panel discussion to allow students and community members to engage in important public health issues and discuss ways to create impactful change.
The ACTion Lab also offers students, faculty, staff, and community members access to documentaries for their own screening events. To view the full list of the documentaries, and to submit a request to access a documentary, please fill out the documentary request form.
Partner with the ACTion Lab!
The ACTion Lab aims to connect our students to impactful learning opportunities in communities across Texas. These include opportunities for students to engage in action-based activities that influence decisions impacting health and social well-being within Texas’ most marginalized groups. Doing so will ensure the work of the Lab 1) targets injustices stemming from structural racism and other inequities, unjust policies, and practices and 2) actively involves those most impacted by the health issue.
In order to offer these opportunities to students, the Lab seeks the guidance, support, and collaboration of community partners and organizations. Through the various tiers of student engagement, examples of community and organizational engagement with the ACTion Lab can include;
Co-learning and Educational Activities
The ACTion Lab will host events each semester. These include, but are not limited to, trainings on key topics, book club discussions, invited guest lectures, and more. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with community partners to host and facilitate events. All events are open to the School of Public Health and some are open to the community at large in an effort to better engage with community partners and allow students to learn in collaboration.
We are looking to market small-scale (one day; multi-day; weekend) Service-learning Opportunities to interested students. These can include, but are not limited to, volunteer efforts to support a program or event, deliver presentations, and survey facilitation.
Short- and Long-term Projects
The ACTion Lab offers students the opportunity to participate in meaningful and financially supported short-term (Scholarship Projects) and long-term (Graduate Fellowships) experiences in community. Community partners will be able to work with trained students and provide them a real-world experience. Opportunities suitable for Scholarship Projects and Graduate Fellowships are expected to be more robust than Service-learning Opportunities. Examples include;
Short - Term Projects (8-16 weeks; summer and/or fall)
- Survey/questionnaire development; messaging development; funding identification; presentation development and delivery; data collection and/or assessment; organize community town hall events
Graduate Fellowships (12-24 months)
- Development and/or implementation of community-based activities; grant writing assistance; foundation and government agency proposal submission; community needs assessments; partnership development
Current Community Partners
The Prevention Institute
The Prevention Institute prides itself on health equity, safety, and the well-being of its communities. This institution has four approaches to how it impacts policymakers, decision-makers, professionals, and the public. The approaches are:
- Building capacity.
- Policy and systems change.
The ACTion Lab aims to collaborate with the Prevention Institute to establish resources and educational enrichment that will focus on advancing health initiatives, racial justice, and prevention. To learn more about the Prevention Institute, check out the link to their website.
For additional information or questions, please contact:
Kimberly Baker, DrPH, MPH
Co-director, ACTion Lab
Robert Hammarberg, DrPH, MPA
Co-director, ACTion Lab
The ACTion Lab launched the fellowship program in the Summer of 2022 and proudly hosted two doctoral students in both the summer and fall semesters of 2022, and is currently hosting two master's students who are working with the Prevention Institute (our ACTion lab partner).
Ariana Okhuozagbon is a 2023 Action Lab Fellow from Houston, Texas. With an undergraduate degree in biology from Fisk University, she followed her interest in understanding how the human body works and what it requires to be healthy. Ariana believes that health is a human right and is driven by that principle to be a bridge for disenfranchised communities. Ariana is a third-year MPH student at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, focusing on Community Health Practice and a certificate in health disparities.
As a change agent, Ariana seeks to impact the health of communities with low socioeconomic status by helping to remove any stumbling blocks keeping them from being at their most healthy. Ariana advocates for providing health education and resources and influencing health policies in favor of those who suffer most due to structural determinants of health.
Connect with us!
Direct any questions to the Office of Public Health Practice and Engagement.
ACTion Lab Team
Kimberly Baker, DrPH
ACTion Lab Co-director
Robert Hammarberg, DrPH
ACTion Lab Co-director
Fatima Sheriff, MPH, PhD Candidate
ACTion Lab Graduate Assistant