Karl Larson


Professor and Program Director in Public Health

The most important things in life are to be happy and content, and we seem to be our own worst enemies sometimes-----

I completed my Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Parks, and Leisure Services in 1989. My first full-time gig was traveling among 4 senior citizen high rise apartment buildings and providing recreational activities. Interestingly, they never really wanted to talk about activities...they wanted to talk about anything related to their health and well-being. It was my first exposure to how imporatant health was across the lifespan.

I decided to go back to college to get a Master's degree that would allow me to work in the college setting. There is something very much 'alive' about working with college students. I truly love it. I spent six years working in Student Affairs in a myriad of positions including coordination of an academic support program, TRIO program professional, director of orientation programs and probably a few more. I learned quickly that working in student affairs will burn you out...especially if you decide to do it right...and I needed a change, but I didn't want to leave academia.

In 2001 I completed my PhD. in Community Health Education at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. I spent 2 years in the public health sector and 4 years teaching at the University of Southern Indiana before coming to Gustavus in 2005.

When the Health Education major sunset at Gustavus in 2014, I was given the opportunity to create a new direction for students at Gustavus through a program in public health. It has been my main focus on campus ever since, and I am proud of the program's impact and student interest. In just its first five years, it became the most declared minor on campus and comtinues to be today.

Professionally, mentoring young professionals has been a central focus of my career. In 2004 I designed, and am now Executive Director of, the National Case Study Competition in Health Education®. In its 17 years, the competition has had over 500 student participants from all over the nation demonstrate their skills and creativity in solving public health challenges. I am proud to have been recognized in 2018 with the Karen Denard Goldman Award for mentoring from the Society for Public Health Education and in 2021 the Schaller Citation for leadership in Health Science from Eta Sigma Gamma (the national health education honorary society). Both remind me daily of the importance of working with young professionals and the profound impact faculty can have.

So, academically, I focus on human behavior. If you have class with me, I assure you we'll talk about why people make the choices they make. Scholarly, I have written all kinds of different things, from teaching ideas, to 5-year qualitative studies, to textbooks...if you really want to know, come ask me sometime and I'll tell you....


BS, Minnesota State University-Mankato, MSEd & Ph.D., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale


soccer, music, and travel

Courses Taught

Synonym Title Times Taught Terms Taught
HES-121 Tai Chi 24 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2013/SP, 2012/FA, 2012/SP, 2011/FA, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2009/SP, 2008/FA, 2008/SP, and 2007/FA
HES-100 Physical Fitness: Conditioning 14 2014/SP, 2011/FA, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/FA, 2009/SP, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, and 2005/FA
HES-226 Community Health Education Theory and Practice 12 2015/SP, 2014/FA, 2014/SP, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, 2011/SP, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, 2006/FA, and 2005/FA
HES-223 Stress Management 12 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/FA, 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, and 2005/FA
HES-201 Personal Health 9 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2011/SP, 2010/SP, 2009/SP, 2008/SP, 2007/SP, and 2006/SP
HES-238 Intro Epidemiology 8 2020/SP, 2019/SP, 2018/SP, 2017/SP, 2016/SP, and 2015/SP
HES-397 Seminar in Hlth/Phy Ed 8 2017/SP, 2015/FA, 2014/FA, 2012/FA, 2011/FA, 2008/FA, 2007/FA, and 2006/FA
FTS-100 FTS:Living With Stress 6 2014/FA, 2013/FA, 2012/FA, 2009/FA, 2008/FA, and 2007/FA
HES-230 Sexuality Education 6 2014/SP, 2013/SP, 2012/SP, 2010/SP, 2008/SP, and 2006/SP
HES-122 Relaxation 6 2007/SP, 2006/FA, 2006/SP, and 2005/FA
HES-211 Health Behavior 5 2019/FA, 2018/FA, 2016/FA, and 2016/SP
HES-090 Major Portfolio 5 2018/SP, 2017/SP, 2016/FA, 2016/SP, and 2015/FA
PBH-338 Intro Epidemiology 4 2022/SP and 2021/SP
HES-236 Alt Medicine Systems 4 2019/SP, 2018/SP, 2016/SP, and 2015/SP
HES-227 Health Prog Planning 4 2018/FA, 2017/SP, 2016/FA, and 2015/FA
HES-213 Youth Sport Wellbeing 4 2015/JN, 2013/JN, 2012/JN, and 2007/JN
PBH-201 Intro Public Health 3 2022/JN, 2021/FA, and 2020/FA
HES-229 School Health Program 3 2013/FA, 2011/FA, and 2009/FA
HES-302 Foundations of Sport and Coaching 3 2011/SP, 2009/SP, and 2007/SP
PBH-330 Health Behavior 2 2021/FA and 2020/FA
NUR-253 Intro Public Health 2 2019/FA and 2019/SP
HES-212 Lifespan Development 2 2016/SP and 2015/FA
HES-268 Career Exploration 2 2008/JN and 2007/JN
PBH-227 Health Prog Planning 1 2021/FA
PBH-225 Global Health 1 2021/FA
IDS-144 ST:Who Got It Right? 1 2020/FA
IDS-244 ST:Planning for Nobel 1 2020/FA
HES-225 Global Health 1 2020/SP
HES-218 Foundations of Sport and Coaching 1 2013/FA
HES-216 Human Disease/Preventn 1 2012/SP
HES-315 Elementary Health Education Content and Methods 1 2008/SP