The Institute for Holistic Health Studies

Holistic Health Studies - Core Competencies


Given the increase in chronic disease due to aging populations, migration, and lifestyle choices, new and creative approaches to health promotion need to be examined. A Holistic Health Concentration can provide a compelling resource in this regard. National surveys show a significant and persistent increase in the adoption and use of 'alternative' health perspectives and practices. Yet despite this growth, higher education provides limited exposure to and training in this important approach to health care. For purposes of increasingly important preventive self-care, and for the training of future healthcare professionals, introduction to these important ideas is essential. In addition, 21st century public health problems are increasingly global in scope, such as the health impact of climate change or the overuse of antibiotics. Integrating holistic perspectives into modern public health invariably brings cross-cultural, global, and systems-oriented ideas and tools to these problems, making it a useful addition to comprehensive public health training.

To address these issues the HHS Concentration is proposed. A central goal of the Holistic Health Studies (HHS) Concentration is to bring a holistic perspective to the understanding of health, disease prevention, and treatment. A holistic perspective recognizes the interdependence of thoughts and feelings, bodily processes, consciousness, physical environment, culture, society and other critical factors as contributors to health and illness. It seeks to empower individuals to be responsible for their health while recognizing the significance of social determinants. Learning practical self-care concepts and skills is a core element for building understanding and long-term success. The diverse courses expose students to the healing traditions of cultures from around the globe, both ancient and modern, embedded within the context of general education principles of critical thinking, writing proficiency, multicultural awareness, and holistic inquiry of individual, societal and ecological concerns. Through the integration of theory, practical application, and personal practice these ideas become part of a deeper understanding of how we can heal ourselves and our planet.

Upon completing the concentration it is expected that students will have a body of knowledge and skills useful for promoting and sustaining health from a holistic perspective. To this end the following Core Competencies are provided as guiding principles for individual courses, the curriculum, and the evolving field of Holistic Health.

Upon completion of the Holistic Health Concentration in Health Education students will be able to...
1. Apply a holistic perspective, including cross-cultural, interdisciplinary, and humanistic views, to describe and analyze contemporary health issues.

2. Demonstrate knowledge of holistic health practices related to personal growth and self-actualization, stress management, mind-body methods, nutrition and natural healing, movement and body-based practices, energy medicine, consciousness and spirituality, and traditional/whole medicine systems.

3. Lead by example, applying holistic health principles and practices in one’s own life thereby enhancing health in personal and professional settings.

4. Apply critical thinking skills for understanding, practicing, and promoting holistic health, including effective information acquisition, use of evidence-based literature, and analysis and evaluation of holistic and conventional health concepts and practices.

5. Describe creative and effective problem solving and decision-making strategies useful for managing and transforming personal and community health issues.

6. Demonstrate knowledge of effective written, oral and visual communication for conveying health information, advancing positive social change, transforming conflict (individual and group), and promoting global citizenship/activism.

7. Describe media literacy concepts and demonstrate ability to access, analyze and evaluate media information relevant to holistic health from diverse sources.

8. Recognize inequities in the world, and describe methods to promote social justice and interpersonal respect across diverse cultures and traditions.

9. Describe holistic health concepts and practices relevant to addressing ecological and environmental health problems.

10. Describe core concepts and practices from the world’s spiritual traditions and contemporary consciousness studies relevant to personal health and ethical development.


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