THE GLOBAL COMMUNICATION PROJECT, 2021 EDITION (GCP2021)

PREFACE TO THE GCP2021

The content of this revised text and the courses it accompanies is taken largely from The Global Communication Project, a web-based text initially developed in 2015 by Drs. John Elder and Joseph Smyser with invited additional authors. Beginning in 2019, additional iterations of The Global Communication Project  have been edited by Drs. Katherine Elder and John Elder and have tracked the rapidly evolving field, adding new modules up to early 2021.

Over the past 13 months (since February 2020), this class has been taught 3 different times on two campuses. During this time, we all have gone through unprecedented domestic and global public health challenges. On the day of this writing, the United States has lost over a half a million lives to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), more than the combined American deaths in World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War combined - keeping in mind that U.S. involvement in these three wars spanned over a cumulative 15+ years. Individuals and families have been shut in their houses, with children failing in school, parents losing their jobs, and loved ones unable to bid their dying relatives farewell. Launched under the Trump administration, "Operation Warp Speed" yielded one of the fastest vaccine developments in history, but the distribution of these vaccines proceeded at a snail's pace. Further, the rollout has favored wealthier nations in North America, Europe, and East Asia, as well as wealthier segments within these societies. Concurrently, public outcry in response to racist violence, which includes (among others) police brutality and incidents of violence and discrimination linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, has resulted in a declaration by public health and medical communities that racism is a threat to public health. Climate change has resulted in massive wildfires, hurricanes and flooding, and freezing temperatures as far south as Northern Mexico. There has never been so much for those of us working in public health communication to address. 

And yet, as we are addressing these and other related issues, we need to prepare for an uncertain and potentially dangerous future. Current and upcoming mutations of the coronavirus may or may not be preventable by currently approved vaccines. Individuals who have survived COVID-19 may suffer from severe and long-term (if not permanent) side effects. All of this comes as policy propositions to slow the spread, including social distancing, mask mandates, and temporary lockdowns, are met with fierce public protests around the world. At the same time, social media have come to dominate all manner of communication efforts with at times laughable, and at others scary, results. 

So... 'buckle up'! It could get bumpier. The good news for you who are public health students is that employers are seeing the value of social, health, and risk communication. By the end of this course, the learner should be able to design a public health campaign, which involves message development, conducting rigorous qualitative and quantitative research, and selecting channels and sources that connect the campaign with the target audience. This is no small challenge and could be the subject of years of study for you, but after completing the GCP2021, you will have the theoretical and practical foundation to continue to research to optimize your campaign's effectiveness. By completing the activities, viewing the hyperlinks in the text as you're able, and reading the content, you'll be ready to organize, create, and launch your campaign.