New health communication minor available beginning fall


Photo Courtesy of OUCOMJRNPR Instagram

The Oakland University Communication, Journalism and Public Relations Department announced the new communication and health minor for fall 2021.

In the fall of 2021, Oakland University will offer a new minor: health communication. An announcement posted on the OU Communication, Journalism and Public Relations Instagram page described the new minor as “an interdisciplinary minor that includes coursework in communication, public relations, journalism, health sciences and sociology.”

“It is considered a transdisciplinary area of study because it cuts across, not only the liberal arts, like communication or sociology, but it cuts across into the professional schools like health science,” Communication Program Director Dr. Robert Sidelinger said.

The liberal arts minor in health communication requires students complete a minimum of 25 credits. This includes two core courses, one foundational science or theory course, two elective courses in communication as well as two other courses students can select from the list under the minor in the 2021-2022 undergraduate catalog.

“When I created it [the minor], I wanted to include as many options across disciplines that made sense for a student taking the minor,” Sidelinger said. “I thought that would be more attractive to students who are interested in health.”

Sidelinger noted many students studying communication often enter internships or the workforce within the health industry. Students have worked with hospital systems like Beaumont, as well as with nonprofit organizations like the American Lung Association and the Alzheimer’s Association.

“This minor basically adds value to what students were already doing themselves,” Sidelinger said.

This minor is for students interested in studying advanced communication in the health field. An extensive scientific background is not necessary. Students are prepared to work in professions that involve roles like handling internal and external communications for organizations like health systems and collaborating with medical experts to relay information to the public. This is completed through various communication strategies.

“These are large organizations that require and need a lot of different people with a lot of different types of expertise, besides the medical expertise,” Sidelinger said. “It’s for the people that are interested in health campaigns, health promotion, health awareness and the kind of the message creation behind those things.”

For over a year, COVID-19 has demanded the careful communication of public health information. Sidelinger stressed that while everyone is experiencing a global pandemic, now is the perfect time to begin studying health communication.

“I told my students for better or worse, you might be inundated with COVID-19 information already, but it’s the example that you can see all around us right now — we’re all affected by health issues,” Sidelinger said.

For more information about the Health Communications minor, please view the course catalog.

Dr. Sidelinger can also be reached for further questions via his email: [email protected]