Exploring the Relationship between Dietary Patterns and Depression among Young Adults in the United States. College of Public Health & Social Justice, Saint Louis University
PUBH 5960: Capstone in Public Health Practice


Overview. The central focus of the capstone course is for you to demonstrate your ability to integrate and synthesize selected competencies by completing a student-initiated project, or an ILE (Integrative Learning Experience). This experience will allow you to deepen your mastery of public health practice and will require that you carefully manage that project throughout the semester.

Your project will be driven by a) your selection of competencies b) the deliverable or product most of interest to you and c) how you’d like to work with others to generate that product. In this way, the projects will be almost entirely customized to meet the needs and interests of individual students.

At the beginning of the semester, you will identify foundational and concentration competencies you think are important for your professional development that you will then synthesize in your project. These may change as your project evolves. However, your first submission will be a prospectus in which you describe your rationale for choosing these competencies and how you intend to develop a project to address that integration. I will review and then approve the prospectus (which may involve some iteration or modification).

Specific language from our CEPH accreditation documentation: Students are required to complete an applied public health project to be successful in this course. Projects can be individual or in groups. On day one of the course, the instructor explains the requirements of the course. For their first individual assignment, students complete a competency worksheet in which they select at least 5 competencies (2 MPH and 3 concentration) they will work on in the course through the development of the final project. The faculty strongly encourages students to work with community organizations on a project beneficial to the organization. The faculty provides direction and support to the students as they choose the competencies on which to focus. In the prospectus of the project, students describe the proposed project and are challenged to discuss how the project will allow them to synthesize and integrate the competencies they choose. The faculty reviews and comments on the prospectus, especially related to its scope and ability to allow the students to address the competencies chosen and offers support to the students throughout the semester. The faculty member arranges for the students to receive peer and colleague critiques during the semester as well, both in and out of the classroom and regularly encourages students to reach out to other faculty to get comments on and advice about their projects. For the final individual assignment students reflect on their ability to integrate and synthesize the MPH and concentration competencies. Faculty use a rubric to provide their assessment of how well the students integrated and synthesized competencies, as well as other graded components.

A few important notes to orient our work:

1. In all cases, the final deliverable must be an individual product. Although you will work with your peers, colleagues, faculty and others, your final deliverable must represent individual work.
2. Please make sure that the scope of your project is appropriate. If you’d really like to write a grant proposal or a paper, you would be best served by collaborating with other students. If you’d like to work independently, you would be best served by narrowing the scope of the effort.
3. If you want to work collaboratively and you’re not certain how to have that conversation, or you’d prefer to partner with someone outside of class but feel unsure about how to broker this arrangement, please let me know.
4. I’m also more than happy to give you some directed input about how you might move forward if you’re grasping to find a project. I’m happy to invite you to explore an opportunity related to one of my projects or connect you with a community partner or colleague.
5. For those of you working in teams, I would strongly recommend that you consult the resources you’ve used in previous classes to set clear expectations and collaborative practice. Please see related materials in the Canvas folder.
6. If you are working with partners outside of this class, please remember that you are representing SLU; all correspondence should be professional (please copy me on all/most emails) and shared materials should be polished.
7. There are two other capstone classes – both of which require students to draft a publishable paper. If you’re interested in writing a paper as your ILE, please let me know and I’m happy to connect you with those professors so that you can request access to their materials if you’d like.
8. Ideally, the product you generate will be very useful to your community partner or other audience. Your final product should be written in a professional voice, without judgment or bias and you should refrain from sharing frustration in project deliverables (e.g., “Our timeline was delayed since the school administrator didn’t show up for our meeting.”) You should craft the “voice” of your project so that it is appropriate for your audience, not for the professor.
9. Upon completion of your prospectus, please enter the requested information here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1N9_f2Ayhr3gxClWGiq0yeyTURUqjjFlGClm2oWrtnrQ/edit?usp=sharing. Please return to this Google doc if the information changes over the course of the semester.

Grading. Because the projects are highly variable, I will not be using a standardized rubric. I will give you substantive feedback on your draft submissions (in Canvas) and will use a more general grading scheme (e.g., assessing your application of theory, communication with partners, quality of your writing and storytelling, quality of the literature review, integration of competencies).

For most students, there will be five graded elements of the ILE. If you would like to develop a project that doesn’t quite fit this structure, please let me know and we can modify these elements as necessary.

Assignment links are provided for each project component on Canvas specifying the due dates for
Parts 1, 4 and 5. Please note that these due dates appear on the course calendar, available in the Administration section of the Canvas site. I am very flexible on these dates. However, it is up to you to plan accordingly for my review of your submissions.
Project components.

1. Project Part I: Project prospectus 150 points

2. Project Part 2: Draft component A 100 points

3. Project Part 3: Draft component B 100 points

4. Project part 4: Final project deliverables and presentation 300 points

5. Project part 5: Final reflection and team contributions 100 points


1. Interests. Briefly describe your professional, educational and perhaps personal goals and interests. You should clearly specify 2-3 goals that will help shape your ILE, considering settings, populations, methods and topics as depicted in the figure. Feel free to be creative and explore innovative intersections. (you do not need to respond to each dimension of this figure—I share as a guide to structure your thinking.)

2. Competency integration. Given these goals and interests, list at least 2 of the foundational MPH competencies and 3 concentration competencies that you will address in your project. Please include the specific number of the competency and paste the exact wording. For dual degree students, describe how you will integrate public health with your other degree in the ILE.

3. Product. Briefly describe the project you plan to undertake for your capstone project. While the project can be related to your internship or your work for another class, it’s important that the ILE is distinct and offers complementary learning and assessment opportunities.

Regardless of the product you prepare, there should be sufficient and rigorous handling of theory and methods and audience. You should also very clearly describe how you will integrate the competencies you’ve selected. Importantly, simply applying multiple competencies does not meet the criteria for competency integration.
The product(s) can take many forms; please indicate the type of product you’re planning to develop and describe the methods and deliverables in a couple of paragraphs. Make sure to specifically indicate the activities in your project that will allow you to address, integrate, and synthesize the competencies. You can use a table for this or whatever format you think will work best for your project.
Types of products to consider
o grant proposal
o evaluation plan
o program plan
o survey tools or assessments
o manuscript that will include community members and be useful to them
o community needs assessment or formative assessments
o communication and marketing plan
o training, curricula or educational materials
o health communication materials
o many others
4. Collaboration and partnership. Provide the name of the community group or other partners you’re working with, the faculty you will consult and contact information, if applicable. If you’re not working with a specific group, please describe the audience for your project more generally. Identify the professors, classmates, community members or others you have consulted or will consult as your project develops.
Provide the names of your project teammates. If you’re working collaboratively, please also generally describe how you plan to share the responsibilities of the project development and how your work will be independently assessed at the completion of the semester.
5. Timeline. Establish a loose project management plan. Include a general timeline, in table form preferably, that describes how you will “chunk” your project elements, when you will submit the two drafts for review, what these drafts will comprise, and when you would like my feedback. Note that this may be intuitive for some types of efforts (e.g., intro, methods, results, discussion), but less so for others.

Please share any other applicable information about how you will manage your project this semester or any particular constraints or considerations I should know about the semester.


Twice during the semester you will have the opportunity to submit materials for review. What you submit is entirely up to you. A few notes about this:

• Although I set a “due date” in Canvas for the purpose of receiving your submission, the date you submit is entirely up to you. However, I will need about one week to provide feedback, so please plan accordingly.
• Part of your grade for your final product will be the degree to which you’ve considered feedback on these drafts.
• In addition to these submissions, I’ll be providing feedback and guidance throughout the semester and you’ll have time to work on your project during our class sessions.
• IMPORTANT: This will not be a linear experience! It is very likely that you’ll start down one path and then adjust your approach to explore another direction. It could very well be that you change topics entirely, adjust the competencies, find a different way to integrate your learning. That’s all EXPECTED and OKAY. Allow yourself some leisure time for scholarly meandering. So, relative to Part 2 and 3 – it might be that the parts you submit do not necessarily build on each other directly – which is fine.

Thinking about the options for final products you might be developing, here are some ideas about what you might submit as drafts for review.

• A logic model that will guide your program development
• A draft survey instrument
• Recruitment strategy for a Facebook survey
• Message concepts for a communication campaign
• Manuscript outline
• Blog posts
• A specific aims page for a grant
• Song lyrics
• Learning objectives and outcomes for an educational curriculum
• SPSS results tables and syntax
• Background research that will inform a policy brief
• Domains of a community assessment
• Storyboards for a comedy sketch


On the final day of the semester, you’ll share your final presentation with the class. Due to the size of the class and the wide variety of projects the class has developed, we’ll allow for some flexibility for these presentations. Specific details and schedule TBD.

I’ll wait until we have some understanding of the projects to make a final determination about format. However, we will most certainly allow for some customization here so that those of you planning to present your capstone projects elsewhere can choose a consistent format. Depending on these preferences, student presentation will be organized in a way that allows for maximal instructor and peer feedback. I’ll provide an agenda / speaker list in advance of the final class and further instructions for providing peer feedback.

As noted previously, the final products will reflect a range of deliverables. A strong final product will demonstrate consideration of previous feedback and solid application of competencies and their integration.


Upon completion of the project, provide a summary of your project and a reflection of how you integrated the selected competencies. This document should be about two pages, double-spaced and submitted via the Assignment link in Canvas.


1. Describe how you applied and integrated the selected MPH competencies in the capstone project. Remember that it is not sufficient to simply discuss the application; a full discussion of the integration is important.

2. Describe how you applied and integrated the concentration competencies in the capstone project.

3. For dual degree students, describe how you integrated public health with your other degree in the ILE.

4. Describe how the project allowed you to develop skills in your areas of interest and how this work prepared you to practice public health.

5. In what ways do you think you were successful? What would you like to have done differently?

What is the goal of the PUBH 5960 Capstone in Public Health Practice course?

James Karani
Exploring the Relationship between Dietary Patterns and Depression among Young Adults in the United States
Great! It sounds like you have a topic in mind for your capstone project. To start, you’ll need to identify foundational and concentration competencies that you think are important for your professional development and that you will synthesize in your project. You’ll also need to create a prospectus that describes your rationale for choosing these competencies and how you intend to develop a project to address that integration.

Based on your topic, some potential competencies you may want to consider include:

Analytic/Assessment Skills: You will need to be able to analyze data on dietary patterns and depression, as well as assess the relationship between the two.
Communication Skills: You will need to be able to effectively communicate your findings to a variety of audiences, including academic peers, public health professionals, and lay audiences.
Research Methods: You will need to be familiar with various research methods, including survey design, data collection, and statistical analysis.
Public Health Biology: You will need to have a basic understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying depression and the potential impact of dietary patterns on these mechanisms.
Social and Behavioral Sciences: You will need to understand the social and behavioral factors that may contribute to depression and how these factors may interact with dietary patterns.
Your prospectus should outline how you plan to integrate and synthesize these competencies in your project. It should also describe your project in more detail, including your research question, study design, data sources, analysis plan, and potential implications for public health practice.

Throughout the semester, you’ll need to carefully manage your project, seeking feedback from peers, colleagues, and faculty as needed. Your final deliverable should be an individual product that represents your own work, but you may work with others to generate that product.

Good luck with your project!

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