Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy


Nicole Stottlemyre


curricula, disability, education, undergraduate, public administration, public health, workforce


Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Public Health


Nearly one in four adults and one in six children in the United States (U.S.) have a disability. Despite the evidence documenting health differences, public health professionals receive inconsistent or little-to-no disability education in graduate public health curricula. Undergraduate public health (UGPH) programs have an expanding role in building the future public health workforce, including the U.S. governmental public health workforce. However, the inclusion of disability-related content within UGPH program curricula is currently unknown. The purpose of this multi-site case study was to conduct preliminary research to describe how disability-related curricula are or can be included in UGPH program curricula and to understand what supports are needed to deliver UGPH program curricula for disability-competent public health workforce preparedness. From semi-structured interviews and document analysis data, this study’s research questions aimed to discover to what extent the four public health workforce disability competencies can be included in the UGPH program curricula of California-based public universities. The social-ecological theory, which acknowledges and describes the influence of larger social systems and environments on individual and community-level health outcomes, served as the guiding conceptual model for this study. The qualitative data were examined through thematic and content analysis approaches. This study found that disability-related content in UGPH program curricula lacks focus and specificity, lacks inclusion and depth, and is influenced by faculty and student preferences. Further, faculty capacity and university and faculty resources were identified as barriers, and curriculum flexibility was identified as a facilitator to disability-content curricula inclusion.