This school year, Colorado Christian University has the privilege of welcoming former president of New Jersey’s Public Health Association, Dr. Jim Brown, to the CCU community. A pioneer of online health care courses, Dr. Brown will be teaching classes such as Health Care Terminology, Health Care Delivery Systems, Human Anatomy and Physiology, and Microbiology. He has previously served as a dean at Ocean County College in New Jersey.
One of the greatest challenges facing health care training today is adapting in-classroom teachings to online courses. In this area, Brown is ahead of the game. He used software called SoftChalk Cloud to develop an interactive “Intro to Public Health” online course that several community colleges in New Jersey have incorporated into their curricula. Though some elements of in-classroom teaching don’t transfer easily to an online course (such as live discussion), he is formulating ways to “recreate the magic in face-to-face teaching in online courses.”
Many online courses are severely limited in visuals and interactivity, but Jim intersperses pictures, videos, and games throughout the course to help students engage with the material. He also has government officials, such as junior New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, and professionals in the public health field answer students’ questions online. So far, the online courses have been a success.
As a science professor, Brown often has to teach with a secular perspective -- but whether he teaches at a community college or at CCU, he doesn’t shy away from sharing his personal experiences with students. As an AIDS researcher for Roche, an international health care organization, his travels took him across the world to India and China, places where a great number of people live in poor conditions.
On one of his trips to India, he delivered the keynote address on AIDS and drug awareness at the Hope 92 World Conference. “Mother Teresa showed up,” he recalled, “and she thanked me for giving the keynote address. I was so thrilled.”
But the effects of the experience didn’t end there. Jim Brown witnessed firsthand the cruel reality of impoverished living in Mumbai -- overcrowded spaces, children begging for food and money, people who had died on the streets in the night being removed the next morning. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘Why isn’t this making the news?’” he commented. “And then it hit me: it’s not making the news because it’s not news; it happens every day.”
After his trip to Mumbai, Jim and his wife decided to adopt. “We have three biological children, but we went out and adopted three children whom nobody wanted. Something I discovered during my travels is that there are so many kids around the world, and right here at home, who just need love. That has really left an impression on me.”
His personal experiences have helped Brown to teach his students real life application. “Telling stories is one of the most powerful ways of teaching. Students will remember the stories, the case studies, years later when they’ve forgotten all the facts.”
In his microbiology class, Dr. Brown uses examples from the latest news in the medical world, such as the Hantavirus that struck several visitors at Yosemite Park in early October and the outbreak of fungal meningitis among some patients who received contaminated steroid shots. At CCU, he hopes to connect his students with missionaries working in the health care field across the world.
Additionally, the public health care field offers options besides becoming a nurse or physician. “Nursing is very tough to go through, and many students wash out of it. They become lost and ask, ‘Now what do I do?’ What they often don’t realize is there are so many other allied fields they can get involved in, and that’s one of the reasons why I push public health. There’s also social work. You don’t get paid well in social work, but you make the world a better place,” he commented.
No matter what direction health care takes in America, Jim Brown will be on the front lines of the public health field, sharing the love of Christ and encouraging others to make the world a better place.