Building Health Equity Training Program

Who: The Building Health Equity Training Program is intended for health department employees across the state of Iowa. We are a team of public health practitioners, faculty, staff, and students who are committed to pursuing health equity. As facilitators, we are co-learners in conversations that push ourselves and others to deepen our understanding of health equity principles and incorporate that into our lives and work.

What: The Building Health Equity initiative is funded by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services and led by the Institute for Public Health Practice, Research, and Policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health. The training program consists of six modules covering a range of topics that give participants a foundational understanding of health equity issues, causes, and outcomes as well as the tools to connect this knowledge to personal and professional situations. Additionally, each session is preceded by asynchronous individual work that connects to the topics covered in the upcoming session. The specific dates and timeline of the sessions can be adapted to fit the needs of each health department receiving the training.

Where: So far, this training program has been implemented in four large health departments in the state of Iowa. However, the program is designed for departments of all sizes.

Why: Racism, ableism, classism, and other forms of oppression, bias, or discrimination against certain groups or populations contribute to health disparities and other disproportionate negative outcomes in those affected. We must work to acknowledge our own experiences and biases to better understand the role each of us has in promoting equity in our work as public health professionals. Additionally, it is imperative that we recognize the historical and current systems that contribute to these disparities so we can work to dismantle them to better the health and well-being of all members of the communities we serve.

How: This training program has been facilitated through both an online and in-person format. However, we recommend in-person, face-to-face sessions that take place within the departments.

If you are affiliated with an Iowa-based health department and are interested in receiving this training, please contact Laurie Walkner (

Graphic showing training goals and core components of the curriculum, using the Groundwater metaphor
Vector Source: Tracey Saxby, Integration and Application Network