Council on Linkages

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The Council on Linkages Between Academia and Public Health Practice (COL) was established in 1991 under a Public Health Special Project Grant awarded to the Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health. As of 1999, the COL is staffed by the Public Health Foundation (PHF) and is funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Health Resources and Services Administration and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH).

The overall objective of the COL is to improve the relevance of public health education to public health practice. The COL's mission is "to improve public health practice and education by refining and implementing recommendations of the Public Health Faculty/Agency Forum (Forum), establishing links between academia and the agencies of the public health community, and creating a process for continuing public health education throughout one's career."

The COL is comprised of leaders from national organizations representing state and local public health agencies, managed-care organizations, and academic institutions. The COL grew out of the Forum, which recommended the establishment of a national steering committee to "foster, coordinate, and monitor implementation of the Forum recommendations and action steps." The Forum developed recommendations for improving the relevance of public health education to the needs and desires of the public sector. The need for this improvement, for public health professionals to place a higher value on practice-specific training, was documented by the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Public Health.

The COL, which meets quarterly, has made considerable progress since its inception in 1991. Some of the COL's accomplishments include: (1) initiating development of national public health practice guidelines, based on the expertise of the academic and practice communities; (2) promoting revision of accreditation criteria to help guide accredited public health academic programs in their linkages with the practice community; (3) identifying and publicizing model academic-practice linkages through annual Linkages Awards, the COL's quarterly bulletin, The Link, and the COL's web site,; (4) working with ASPH to create and support activities of the ASPH Council of Public Health Practice Coordinators; (5) presenting sessions at meetings of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the National Association of County and City Health Officials to promote academic-practice linkages; (6) participating in national and regional workforce development efforts to enhance the skills and competence of the current public health workforce; (7) developing a demonstration project in Ohio to foster academic-practice linkages; and (8) creating an initiative to develop a national public health practice research agenda designed to help refocus academic research on practice issues.

Dianna M. Conrad

Ronald Bialek

(see also: Association of Schools of Public Health; Future of Public Health; Health Resources and Services Administration; Public Health Foundation; Research in Health Departments; United States Department of Health and Human Services [USDHHS] )


Association of Schools of Public Health (1998). Strong Schools, Strong Partners: A Report on Practice Activities of Schools of Public Health. Washington, DC: Author.

Bialek, R. (1999). "Developing a Public Health Research and Applications Agenda: Tools for the 21st Century." Link 13 (1):35.

Gordon, A. K.; Chung, K.; Handler, A.; Turnock, B. J.; Schieve, L. A.; and Ippoliti, P. (1999). "Final Report on Public Health Practice Linkages Between Schools of Public Health and State Health Agencies: 19921996." Journal of Public Health Management and Practice 5 (3):2534.

Sorenson, A., and Bialek, R. (1991). Public Health Faculty/Agency Forum. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

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Council on Linkages

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