Engaging in Anti-Oppressive Public Health Teaching: Challenges and Recommendations

Anushka R. Aqil, Mannat Malik, Keilah A. Jacques, Krystal Lee, Lauren J. Parker, Caitlin E. Kennedy, Graham Mooney, Danielle German

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Public health students are not systematically trained how positionality and power impact public health practice. A grounding in anti-oppression equips practitioners with tools to recognize the impact of present and historical contexts, foster critical self-reflection, and address systems of oppression. The goal of this study was to gather evidence of how anti-oppression is incorporated in public health teaching. Method. Purposive sampling was used to identify public health faculty who engage in anti-oppressive practice across accredited schools of public health espousing an explicit commitment to social justice. Semistructured in-depth interviews were conducted between January and April 2020 via Zoom; analyses were informed by constructivist grounded theory. Results. Twenty-six faculty from eight schools of public health and one school of medicine participated. Participants highlighted challenges in and techniques on how to engage in anti-oppressive teaching. Three overarching methods for incorporating anti-oppressive principles in pedagogy were identified: facilitating critical consciousness, creating equitable and mindful classrooms, and discussing historical context and systems of oppression, alongside discussing challenges associated with using an anti-oppressive lens in teaching. Conclusions. Anti-oppression is an explicit framework that can be incorporated in training future public health practitioners to work toward dismantling systems of oppression through addressing issues of power and privilege. Findings from this study indicate that faculty are interested in and engage in anti-oppressive teaching but lack consistent training and institutional support. This study offers tools that faculty can employ in the classroom toward practicing anti-oppressive public health pedagogy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-353
Number of pages10
JournalPedagogy in Health Promotion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • antiracism
  • critical pedagogy
  • critical reflection
  • pedagogy
  • public health pedagogy
  • social justice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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