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University of Minnesota Extension

Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities


Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities is a web-based, professional development program that promotes the integration of policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change approaches with educational strategies. The program was designed for organizations* whose work focuses on health promotion, to help staff understand, reflect, and act on the many factors that influence whether individuals can easily make healthy choices.

*For those unable to participate with an organization, the program has been adapted for individual participation.

Course overview

Five online modules and two toolkits are the primary source of content for the program. Modules average about 60 minutes each, with material presented through activities, examples, stories, reflection questions, and interactive exercises. Participation in the course offers 5 hours of continuing education and has been pre-approved by:

  • The National Commission on Health Education Credentialing

  • The National Board of Public Health Examiners

Participants will learn:

  • Basic terminology

  • Examples of systems-thinking including the Social-Ecological Model, Spectrum of Prevention, and PSE concepts

  • Skills to expand your work across many levels to impact policies, systems, and environments

  • Strategies and tools for strengthening engagement, communicating with partners, and understanding community context

For more details on the program content, including learning objectives, download the Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities program summary (PDF)

Originally developed in 2015, the program has gone through two pilot phases and a peer review. For the full program history, download the development timeline and 2019 highlights

Course options

Participate as an organization

Systems Approaches for Healthy Communities was designed to be taken as a group. It is an online, on demand program that organizations, departments, networks and coalitions can begin at any time that fits their schedule.  In addition to the online modules and two toolkits, the organizational option includes:

  • Coaching process and coach guide
  • Implementation guide
  • Facilitation Guide 
  • Three online consultations
  • Knowing Your Organization tool

Cost is determined by the number of licenses your organization would like to purchase or renew.

Number of licenses Initial price Renewal price
76+ $4,000 $2,000
51-75 $3,000 $1,500
21-50 $2,000 $1,000
up to 20 $1,000 $500

Complete the form below to purchase or renew licenses and participate as an organization in the Systems Approaches course.

Purchase or renew licenses

Contact the Systems Approaches Team with questions

Participate as an individual

If you are unable to participate with an organization or group, the program has been adapted for individual participation. Individual participants will work at their own pace and complete self-reflection activities to support learning. Individuals can begin the course at any time. We recommend completing the course in 10-12 weeks. 

Cost — $75 per individual participant

You can register as an individual participant through the University of Minnesota online registration system. This will give you access to the course site where you can complete the program pre-survey, view the online modules, and access other program resources.

Register online for the individual option

Already registered as an individual participant? Access the course here.

Please note the individual option does not include program add-ons from the organizational version including coaching resources, consultations, and the Knowing Your Organization tool. If you have multiple people from your organization who would like to participate, we encourage you to select the organizational option. We can customize this program to your budget and needs.

Reviewed in 2023

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