Carolyn Porta, PhD, MPH, MS, RN, SANE-A, FAAN
Associate Vice President, Clinical Affairs, Office of Academic and Clinical Affairs, University of Minnesota
Professor, Population Health Systems Cooperative, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota
Adjunct Professor, Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota

Recent trends of state-level decriminalization of psilocybin, and an increasing number of federally funded studies involving psilocybin has contributed to revived popularity and attention toward mushrooms and their medicinal properties. Historically, diverse cultures have incorporated all types of fungi into their healing and cultural practices. Today, “gourmet” mushrooms (e.g., lions mane, reishi, chaga) are sought after in nature, at farmers markets, and mainstream grocery stores in fresh, dried, and capsuled forms for their taste as well as their possible cognitive and related health benefits. Medicinal benefits of “magic mushrooms” in the form of synthetic psilocybin are being evaluated in clinical trials for their efficacy to address a range of conditions including treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, end of life acceptance, etc. The popularity of fungi warrants attention and consideration of public health implications, unintended consequences, and promising benefits, including possible solutions for antibiotic resistance and diseases affecting humans, animals, and the environment.

This course will examine the historic, current, and future value of fungi in personal and public health, and in advancing the collective health of humans, animals, and the environment. Students will learn about historical and present day uses of fungi as medicine, specific promising use of psilocybin to mitigate mental health problems and effects of trauma, the role of fungi in “one health”, and related public health practice and policy implications. A tour of the fungi grow lab on the St. Paul campus is part of the class experience.

This non-credit course meets with the academic course PubH 7200-106 as part of the 2024 Public Health Institute.

Enrollment for this course will open on February 22, 2024.

For more information: z.umn.edu/PHI


At the conclusion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Become familiar with the history of fungi as medicine.
  • Examine the chemistry of psychedelics, the current science on psilocybin as a potential therapeutic treatment, and possible public health applications of fungi-derived compounds.
  • Gain an understanding of the interplay among fungi and human, animal, and ecohealth.
  • Analyze the ethical, legal, and policy considerations surrounding the use of fungi (and psychedelics) in health promotion.

Learning objectives include:

  • Participating in class discussions and group activities will develop a more comprehensive understanding of public health practice and policy development through the lens of fungi and psilocybin health and cultural benefits.
  • Research a topic of interest that examines fungi as medicine and promoter of one health, and present it to the class on the final day of the course.

Registration & Cancellation

The registration fee for this course is $595. You will receive an email letter outlining program logistics two weeks prior to the start of the course.

Requests for refunds will be honored in full if a written cancellation request is received prior to the course start date. An administration fee of $50 will be charged to all refund requests received after the first day of class. The University of Minnesota School of Public Health (SPH) reserves the right to cancel any course. In the event of a course cancellation, registrants will receive a full refund of the program registration fee. SPH is not responsible for refund of travel or other costs incurred by registrants.

SPH will provide a certificate of attendance verifying 1.5 CEUs (15 contact hours) offered for this program. This course is eligible for 15 CPH recertification credits.

All courses are approved for CPH Recertification Credits by the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

Contact & Questions


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