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A CDC Foundational Course for Public Health Practitioners

Overview: CDC’s Public Health Law Program has developed this new, foundational course on public health law as a learning resource for public health practitioners, students, and others. The course comprises 9 slide lecture units for delivery by legal counsel to health departments and by other persons trained in law.

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Scope: This course provides an introduction to fundamental principles of law, ethics, and the legal system as they frame public health practice in the United States.

Target audiences: This course has been designed for delivery especially to the following groups:

  • Front-line practitioners in local, state, tribal, and federal public health agencies
  • Students in schools of public health and law
  • Emergency management professionals, health educators, program managers, and others with interests in and responsibilities for public health

Contents: The course comprises 9 slide lecture units (see below) covering basic principles of law and topical areas in relation to front-line public health practice. Each unit is designed for delivery in approximately 1 hour, but can be expanded or abridged according the sponsoring program’s interests. The course design is modeled on CDC’s “Public Health Emergency Law” course (also publicly available at and its contents have been adapted substantially from key elements contained in the CDC-developed text, “Law in Public Health Practice, Second Edition” published by Oxford University Press in 2007. The 9 lecture units are:

To download the entire collection, please click here. This file is a ".zip" file and requires "winzip" to unpack it. You can "download" a trial version of winzip here.

Instructional delivery: The course is designed for delivery by lawyers for public health agencies, by law school instructors, and by other attorney faculty who have expertise in teaching this subject matter. An instructor may wish to customize a given unit by reducing the total number of slides and/or by inserting additional slides, such as pertinent statutes or regulations from the instructor’s jurisdiction. The course can be delivered as a function of a given program’s interests and needs, including, for example, presentation of all units in 1 to 2 days, or presentation of all or selected units in individual sessions over a longer period of time.

Delivery requirements: Delivery of individual slide units requires that the units be downloaded from the CDC Public Health Law Program’s web site. The presentation will require a projector and a laptop equipped with software compatible with PowerPoint.®

Availability: As of January 2009, Units 1 through 8 are available for download. Click here to download the entire collection. Register on the form here to receive e-mail notification of the availability of Unit 9 and updates on modifications to individual units.

Acknowledgments: The Public Health Law Program is particularly grateful to the following persons for their major contributions to the development of these materials: Ruth Gaare Bernheim, James Hodge, Richard Hoffman, Judy Munson, and Edward Richards. The Public Health Law Program also acknowledges the following persons for their important assistance in the development of these materials: Roger Bernier, Ken Castro, Kim Dammers, Gail Horlick, Paula Kocher, Kevin Malone, Angela McGowan, Joanna Stettner, and Deborah Tress.

Disclaimer: The contents of these course materials have not been formally disseminated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy. These materials are for instructional use only and are not intended as a substitute for professional legal or other advice. While every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of these materials, legal authorities and requirements may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Always seek the advice of an attorney or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a legal matter.

Note: All content currently displayed in each unit and presentation cannot be altered in any way. However, additional slides can be made to customize the course simply by adding a slide in the appropriate area.

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