Health Promotion: Our experience
HCS student, Charlotte Lowry, and Course Director, Dr Ruth Cross, discuss their experiences studying and teaching Health Promotion at Leeds Beckett.
Charlotte, BSc (Hons) Health and Society
Hear what Charlotte enjoys the most about studying her course and how it has aided her development.
Did you know that you always wanted to study BSc Health and Society?
Charlotte: I had always wanted to do something related to health and found the course through clearing. It was definitely a good choice for me, I had a look through the modules and thought it seemed really interesting and covers a lot of different aspects of health. It’s especially a good course if you’re interested in holistic health and helping people, which is what it’s about.
What modules have you found the most interesting and enjoyable so far?
Charlotte: In the first year we did a module called ‘Introduction to Psychology’ which was good for those who have a special interest in this area. I really enjoyed it and it was good to experience something different in the course as well. So far in second year I’m enjoying the ‘Mental Health’ module which offers an exploration into the sociology of mental health.
Dr Ruth Cross, Course Director for Health Promotion
Ruth discusses her current role, career motivations and gives an insight into how studying at Leeds Beckett helped develop her career.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Ruth: My name is Ruth Cross and I'm the Course Director for Health Promotion at Leeds Beckett which means that I have an oversight of all the courses delivered by the Health Promotion team, including BSc Health and Society. I've been working at the university for several years now and teach on both the masters and undergraduate programmes. I teach the ‘Communicating Health’ and ‘Introduction to Psychology’ modules. I'm responsible for the psychology strand which starts as an introduction in the first year and then leads onto something more specialised in the last year.
Could you tell us a little bit about your journey into Public Health?
Ruth: Well, I’m a nurse by profession so started my career in nursing and specialised in infectious diseases and HIV during the 1990s. This was when the HIV and Aids epidemic was taking hold. I then went and worked in Botswana with the Red Cross and UN volunteer programme. In England, I worked with people who were sick and not going to recover. When I moved to Botswana it was a different end of the spectrum, I worked in community development which involved designing messages and interventions to support people living with HIV and to prevent people from contracting it.
When I returned from Botswana, I did a master's degree in Health Education and Health Promotion. At the end of the course, while finishing my dissertation, the professor supervising me suggested that I apply for a maternity leave cover vacancy at the university. I never considered being an academic or working in a university before then as I’d always done the more practical side. I thought why not give it a go. I applied for the job and have been at Leeds Beckett ever since and I love it.
What's your favourite part of teaching the course and why?
Ruth: I really enjoy working with the wide variety of students we have on our programmes. We get to meet people from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, with different experiences and journeys. It's great to interact with people and to see them develop and put what they've learnt into practice. I also enjoy keeping in touch with students after they've graduated and finding out how they're getting on. Seeing people grow and having a part in that is what I love.
The other thing that I have really enjoyed about this job is that it's really varied. In addition to teaching we are researching, writing and undertaking consultancy work which all feeds into the teaching that we do. One strength of the team at Leeds Beckett is that they publish very widely, not only in academic journals but also in textbooks, reports and research bids among other things. Find out more about the Centre for Health Promotion Research.
When looking at the qualifications you have which areas would you like to explore in future?
Ruth: The research that I've done since my PhD has been quite varied. I've done some pedagogical research around supporting students in learning. In addition, I've also done quite a lot of work with vulnerable groups and communities. These include young women who are disadvantaged, homeless people living on the streets and people with life controlling addictions. I think this is a really interesting area of research, it's so important to support people who are on the margins of society and improve what access they have to support and services.
One of the things I really like about the job is that I've had many opportunities to work in different places. For example, working with students in Africa - we've run courses in Zambia, Gambia and Ghana. Working in these settings with colleagues has also been really valuable. Hopefully we will have this opportunity again after the pandemic.