CORVALLIS, Ore. - A new course at Oregon State University this fall called Public Health Policy and Politics will feature guest speakers ranging from health policy experts to politicians - including a visit by former Oregon governor and current gubernatorial candidate John Kitzhaber.

Tom Eversole, project director of strategic development for the College of Health and Human Sciences, is teaching the course, which takes place Mondays and Wednesdays from 4 to 5:20 p.m. during fall term. The class examines bills and issues that have come before the Oregon legislature this year that were related to health and human sciences.

"We're inviting elected officials who sponsored bills or were part of the process to be guest speakers," said Eversole, who is former health administrator for the Benton County Health Department.

The seminar course looks at the interface of policy and public health, and is intended to give students a broader context for the topics they're studying.

"We want our students to understand the dynamic interplay between public health science and best practices and policy," Eversole said. "When you just study it, you don't see how complicated it is. It's the real-life experience of our speakers that brings that to light."

Because students are coming from departments across campus, Eversole said they will learn how public health policy and practice relate to their field of study. Policymakers will help students understand how public policy doesn't occur in one fell swoop, but in a series of small steps.

"It's incremental versus revolutionary," he said.

While most of the class will feature Oregon legislation, part of the course will also look at legislation within the national perspective of public health policy, including a potential discussion with Josh Kardon, chief of staff for Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who has been invited to speak. Future guests also include Rep. Ron Maurer (R-Grants Pass), Vice-Chair House Committee on Health Care, Human Services

Media and the public are invited to attend classes that feature legislators. Next week, students and visitors will have a chance to look at issues related to tobacco prevention and tobacco taxes. Also scheduled to speak are:

Oct 5, - Brian Flay, a professor with the OSU Department of Public Health, and Sara Hartstein, Benton County tobacco prevention coordinator, will talk about tobacco prevention programs, taxes as preventive tool, and the role of litigation in creating public policy. 4 p.m. to 5:20 p.m., in Kearney 112

Oct 7 - Dr. Mel Kohn, Oregon Public Health director, Rep Sara Gelser, sponsor of Moist Tobacco Tax, and Dana Kaye, executive director of the American Lung Association in Oregon, will talk about tobacco control and prevention programs and the failed course of tobacco tax (HB 2122) in the 2009 legislature. 4 p.m. to 5:20 p.m., in Kearney 112

Kitzhaber is scheduled to give a presentation to the class from 4 to 5 p.m. on Nov. 12, in a location to be announced.

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Tom Eversole, 541-737-3827