Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Public health major and minor added

Students can now major or minor in public health, which can improve health globally, focusing on the health of the population as a whole.
Professor of Anthropology Carolyn Hough, along with Professor of biology Dara Wegman-Geedey, began the process of adding the new major and minor.
“Dr. Wegman-Geedey and I have been talking about this for a long time, and we have a lot of students that have majored in other things, but have gone on to really successful careers in public health,” said Hough. “We’ve had a lot of students express interest.”
Sophomore and biology major Deanna Bender became interested in public health after studying other cultures and learning about how different people impact each other.
“I like anthropology a lot, and public health is more medical based, and I’m into that stuff,” said Bender.
Sophomore Sergio Tekeli, a pre-medicine neuroscience major, said he wants to someday practice medicine, but also have a focus on public health.
“Spreading healthy practices is important,” he said. “There’s so many people who don’t have access to it.”
The major has been on the horizon for years. Hough and Wegman-Geedey wrote a proposal and brought it to the faculty council for approval. Once the proposal was approved, the faculty wrote up a curriculum for the major, which was then approved by the rest of the faculty.
One new professor, Tasha Peart, was hired to teach classes for the public health major.
Public health is a diverse field, containing a variety of subjects.
“The major draws from things like biology and the natural sciences, but also brings in the social sciences and the humanities,” said Hough. “So we have core courses in public health, but there’s also an ethics requirement, and students will also take medical anthropology and statistics.”
Students have a variety of career options with a major in public health.
“In terms of the career options that are available, it could be everything from research science, looking at disease outbreaks and how to manage them, and also things like disaster preparedness,” said Hough. “There’s lots of local, state and national public health groundwork, so cities will have public health agencies at the state level as well that are focused on improving health for the population.”
When asked about the differences between majoring in public health as compared to majoring in a science like pre-medicine, Dr. Hough said prevention of sickness is a key factor.
“A lot of people get public health and medicine confused, or think they’re the same thing when they’re not,” said Hough. “Medicine focuses on the individual, and public health looks at populations and communities and promoting good health, and also preventing illness. We’ve understood for a long time that prevention is more efficient and more effective than having people get sick and then making them well.”
While there are many graduate programs for public health in the U.S., not many colleges offer undergraduates the opportunity to study public health, according to Hough.
“We’re really on the forefront of this move to encourage undergraduates to study public health,” said Hough. “The field is very much growing.”
The public health faculty is excited for the program and they anticipate strong student interest in the new major.

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Public health major and minor added