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From Facebook to Instagram: How social media is influencing public health

Monday 15 February 2016

UPDATE: THIS COURSE IS NOW FULL. If you wish to be put on a waiting list please email

Are you interested in using social media to advance public health and your work? Ever wondered how public health could possibly compete in the crowded social media space? This course will help you understand how these platforms are being used to both advance and hold back public health developments.

Topics covered 

  • How social media can contribute to improved public health
  • How social media is being used by opponents to public health reforms

Students will have the opportunity to critique and analyse case studies from a variety of both successful and unsuccessful public health social media initiatives. There will be an emphasis on how online environments and social media tools are contributing to public health advocacy debates and campaigns. Recent examples of how online media have influenced health policy and programming will be presented. Students will examine and learn how to develop content for online media such as news, blogs, and social media.

See short video of Becky discussing Digital junk – is social media making us obese?

Style of teaching

Interactive workshop with lectures and group discussions. Participants will be able to offer ideas, comments and personal reflections.

Who should attend?  

This course will appeal to public health researchers, practitioners, advocates and policy makers who are interested in improving how they communicate public health messages and initiatives through social channels. This course is suitable for those who are brand new to social media and those who are actively engaged and want to know how to use these platforms more effectively.

By the end of this course participants should have the knowledge/skills to:
1. Monitor online activities of relevance to public health, particularly in the areas of tobacco and alcohol control and obesity.
2. Identify appropriate social media channels for public health activities and campaigns
3.Collect and analyse online and new media content of relevance to public health
4.Implement and use social media evaluation tools

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9am Welcome - New media tools and platforms

Becky Freeman

10:30am Morning tea
11am Reviewing the evidence: new media and public health Becky Freeman
12:30pm Lunch break
1:30pm Online threats to health. Managing online opponents and trolls Becky Freeman
3pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Evaluation, research and tracking of online campaigns
Summary of course and evaluation
Becky Freeman
5pm Finish

Teaching staff  

Dr Becky Freeman - Becky is an NHMRC early career research fellow at the School of Public Health, University of Sydney. Her primary research interests include tobacco control, obesity prevention, and how online and social media influence public health

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 22 December 2015.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Our academic building is temporarily closed for seismic reasons but our top class teaching, studying and research programmes remain in full swing.

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