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Signing up for the "Roots of Health Inequity" online course is easy. There is no fee and you can get started at any time.

Just go to If you do not already have a "Roots of Health Inequity" username (your preferred email address) and password, register for one now.

Once you log in, you will see your "Group Overview". You must be a member of at least one group to access the educational content in the course units.

On the "Group Overview" you will see the titles of each unit under the heading "Units." Click on one of these to get start with that unit.

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How to Participate in the "Roots of Health Inequity" Course

The course material is designed around group participation — primarily through group discussions on specific topics and the results of activities in the units. However, the course can be taken by individuals on their own, or with others in the General Group.

OPTION 1: Take the Course as a Group

(1) Plan a Group

Before you begin, gather colleagues from your organization who are interested in taking the "Roots of Health Inequity" course. Consider including colleagues who work in different parts of your organization with different experiences in addressing health equity and learning about the root causes. With this type of diversity, your group discussions may reveal surprising insights.

(2) Select the Group Leader

This person will serve as a central contact and administrator for the group. Group Leader responsibilities include:

  • Creating the group
  • Selecting the units, activities, and discussion prompts for your group
  • Establishing a calendar with schedule, goals, meetings
  • Inviting others to join the group
  • Posting bulletin board updates and announcements
  • Encouraging and monitoring online discussions

HINT: Leaders may want to look over the course units before starting their group to get a sense of the course topics, interactive presentations and depth of content. This will help the leader allocate time and create a schedule that meets the needs of the group. To do this, join the "General Group" and look for the unit titles under "Units."

(3) Create a Group

The person designated to be the Group Leader must create the group. Log in to the "Roots of Health Inequity." On your Dashboard page, click on the "Create a Group" link under the heading "My Actions." The next screen provides fields for a group name, description, affiliation, address and privacy options.

PRIVACY NOTE: Groups are private. Comments, discussions and bulletin board posts are available only to group members. Allowing other members of the "Roots" Community to join your group could affect the feeling of privacy and the willingness to share ideas.

Once the privacy options are chosen, they cannot be changed. The options for privacy are as follows:

  • List in groups directory allows all members of the "Roots" Community to see this group name. Choose this if you want others to join your group without an invitation.
  • Open means that membership requests are accepted immediately.
  • Invitation Only means that membership requests must be approved by the Group Leader.

(4) Invite Others to Join

The Group Leader, as well as other members of that group, can use the "Invite Members" link located under "Actions" on the group page. This will send out an email invitation to join the group, along with a personal note and a link to the "Roots" log in page.

(5) Establish a strategy for completion

The Group Leader can use tools in the "Roots" Community to post goals, target dates, meetings and an overall schedule. The Bulletin Board can be used to make announcements and direct group members to specific areas of the course for discussion. The Calendar is useful for posting a long-term schedule, as well as specific events like meetings or conference calls. The Discussion area is where conversations can take place outside of the individual units. These are good for general topics and discussing the course as a whole.

(6) Begin the Course

Members can access the course at any time, once they are in a group. The units can be studied in any order. As a team, the group should determine which units they want to study first.

OPTION 2: Take the Course as an Individual

If you want to take the course with others, but are not able to form a group from your organization, join the "General Group." You will see the comments from other members and you can engage in their discussions, activities, and bulletin board posts. Access the course units from the group page under the heading "Units."

Take this course as a solitary individual by creating a private, closed group. Comments and postings from other members will not appear in this type of group.

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Tips and Tools for Facilitating Dialogue about Social Justice

The goal of your work in this course is to co-create knowledge in a respectful and engaging community. To meet this goal, you are asked to initiate and participate in challenging—but ultimately rewarding—dialogue about power, privilege, and social injustice.

You and your Learning Group will benefit the most from this experience by establishing and maintaining a safe and constructive space for dialogue. NACCHO has compiled a few tips and tools about group facilitation that may help you establish an equitable, effective, and comfortable group.

(1) Negotiate common safe space.
Create a nonjudgmental space for challenging discussions by establishing "ground rules." Review your group's ground rules often and remind group members who violate them. Discussion comments will be flagged and possibly deleted if your group members consider them offensive or disrespectful.

(2) Acknowledge the challenges.
This course explores unjust systems and ways of thinking that have taken hundreds of years to construct. Because these systems are entrenched, commiseration about the painfulness and pervasiveness of oppression is a natural and important part of dialogue about power, privilege and social injustice. However, as part of this community, you are asked to directly confront the structural injustices influencing your life and work, and become personally responsible for problem-solving. Even as you recognize the importance of this work, you may find the process difficult. Consider that your participation in this course is one step in a long and intensive journey towards social justice.

(3) Notice how power and privilege work in your Learning Group discussions.
Acknowledge and address how power and privilege are being exercised in your group, particularly as your group establishes and revisits group norms. For example, in a common experience during discussions about power, privilege, and social injustice, people belonging to historically marginalized communities are often asked by people belonging to privileged groups to share experiences and knowledge, without a mutual exchange. In this way, knowledge and painful experiences are "harvested" to educate the privileged, even as those who share them have little opportunity to influence group norms, values, processes, or outcomes. This dynamic can undermine trust and foster resentment. At an institutional level, this dynamic is one NACCHO hopes to address through your participation in this learning collaborative.

(4) Review and reflect on a few background resources.

As you form a group and establish group norms, NACCHO strongly recommends reviewing and reflecting on the resources below. Each resource describes an approach to facilitating tough conversations and includes helpful examples of issues you may encounter during dialogue about power, privilege, and social injustice.

  • Doak Bloss, "Initiating Social Justice Action through Dialogue in a Local Health Department: The Ingham County Experience" In Tackling Health Inequities Through Public Health Practice: Theory to Action, Richard Hofrichter and Rajiv Bhatia, eds. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.
  • Maurianne Adams, Lee Anne Bell, and Pat Griffin. Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice. New York, NY: Routledge, 1997.
  • R. Brian Stanfield. The Art of Focused Conversation: 100 Ways to Access Group Wisdom in the Workplace. Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2000.
  • Sheri Lyn Schmidt and Stephen J. Dunn. Talking About Race Facilitation Guide. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University, 1994.
  • Nina Wallerstein and Elsa Auerbach. Problem Posing at Work: Popular Educator's Guide. Edmonton, AB: Grassroots Press, 2004.

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