Starting this fall, Colgate will officially offer a new interdisciplinary minor to educate students about the Global Public and Environmental Health (GPEH) minor. In an email sent to the student body on May 10, provost and faculty dean Tracey Hucks announced that the program will be classified in the academic studies division and that assistant professor of biology Bineyam Taye will be its first faculty director. .
The program was approved in the spring semester of 2021 by the Dean’s Advisory Board and includes pre-existing courses, as well as a new course, Introduction to Global Public and Environmental Health. By making the program available to students, Colgate joins more than 137 higher education institutions that offer an academic concentration in public health, according to Hucks.
According to the University’s website, the GPEH minor aims to help students create tools to address critical global public health issues through an interdisciplinary approach that combines approaches from the natural sciences, social sciences, arts. and human sciences. Rebecca Upton – A. Lindsay O’Connor Chair of American Institutions in Sociology and Anthropology & Africana and Latin American Studies – was part of the planning and coordination team tasked with launching GPEH and said it exemplifies a good combination adapted from interdisciplinary programs and the liberal arts.
âGPEH seems unique to me and is an important part of Colgate’s curriculum,â Upton said. âWe have drawn on the experience of a myriad of professors across the University and have given a lot of thought and attention to how GPEH fits into the ‘Third Century Planâ¦’. , inclusion, disparity and equity in the promotion of global and environmental health. It is timely, but is well grounded in the very principles of this type of educational experience.
In addition to serving as the Director of the Faculty, Taye will also co-teach the new course, Introduction to Global Public and Environmental Health with Upton. Approved by the Curriculum Committee for the upcoming fall semester, this course serves as a common introductory course and is one of the six requirements of the GPEH course.
Introduction to Global Public and Environmental Health explores how intersectional identities affect our experiences with global health issues. The University’s webpage specifically lists topics such as maternal and child health, immigrant and refugee health, and political and cultural influences on disparities in health outcomes. Divided into two parts, the course focuses on disease causation and global health issues in the context of intersecting culture and history.
âThese types of introductory courses reflect the different approaches in the field where students and academics are trained to be easy in both the social and natural sciences – we look at important areas of [intersection]”said Upton.” … I have to admit that seeing students find their passion and niche in the field through the breadth of an introductory course is always rewarding and reminds me of why I ended up doing the job I do: that passion and really ‘finding’ your academic and activist niche. Basically, I’m excited about introductory courses like this because not only do you see the value of the discipline itself, but also how it embodies the liberal arts par excellence.
Elder Harrison Blume, who plans to finish the minor program, echoed Upton’s sentiments.
âThe course requirements for the minor appear to be very flexible and interdisciplinary, making it more accessible to students in a range of majors. If you are interested in any element of how we are affected by public health and environmental issues, this minor is a great way to dig deeper into that topic, âsaid Blume.
The remaining five course requirements fall under pre-existing academic departments, including methodological perspectives and at least three of the four âperspectiveâ disciplinary groups (scientific, environmental, social and / or humanities).
Planning for GPEH began in the fall semester of 2020, during which Taye and biology professor Krista Ingram held meetings for faculty interested in a potential program related to public health.
âLong before this last academic year, there had been growing interest in the field – this is true nationally where we have seen an increasing number of undergraduates who wish to pursue studies in global health and environmental impact over the past decade, âUpton said.
The preliminary planning stage culminated in the development and presentation of a proposal which was presented to the committees of the university, on which Upton said those involved in the establishment of the minor received a âTremendous responseâ from students and faculty. Interest in the Introduction to Global Public and Environmental Health course and the Critical Global Health course taught by Upton in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology has therefore been “remarkable,” Upton said.
Public health dominated the news during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Junior Parna Shakouri noted how this crisis exposed deeper systemic issues.
âWhile COVID-19 is the epitome of public health crises in recent history, it is not the only one we are facing,â Shakouri said. âThe pandemic opened my eyes to the other health disparities that our most vulnerable communities suffer every day. This led me to engage in public health courses and services and to reimagine the career I envisioned for myself in medicine. It taught me that global public health is not just about science or statistics, but about the people, the community, and the incredible efforts we need to make to fight systemic injustices.
âMany professors have worked on university projects related to GPEH and, of course, many have educational interests that make such an interdisciplinary program appealing,â Upton said. âThe students in particular have been incredibly enthusiastic – both current and former undergraduates. I have spoken with many Colgate graduates (recent and older) who have been in touch over the past year and who have said they wish they had GPEH when they were here.