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Major Interest in New Public Health Minor

BRISTOL, R.I. -- Public health is the most interdisciplinary of fields, encompassing everything from biology, anthropology and statistics to environmental science, communications and more. And it’s a field that finds itself at the center of contemporary public discourse as the nation debates how to keep people healthy, how to deliver care when they fall ill and how to cope with costs.

This fall, Roger Williams University launched an interdisciplinary public health minor for students interested in exploring ways to protect and improve the health of individuals and communities. The minor includes a new course titled Public Health Essentials, which touches on such topics as public health assessment, policy development and health promotion education. 

“This grew out of student interest,” says Kerri Warren, associate professor of biology, and the driving force – along with colleagues Tom Sorger in biology, and Marybeth MacPhee in anthropology – behind the program. “Students were bringing this to us. Public health is so broad, and so important, and one of the things we hear over and over again is the need for good, clear thinkers in the public health arena.

“The more we thought about it, we realized an interdisciplinary minor would allow us to capitalize on strengths we already have, in biology, anthropology, statistics and global health, and give students real food for thought.”

The new initiative also draws on existing global health and outreach programs at the University, including a course that Warren teaches with Assistant Professor of American Studies Autumn Quezada-Grant that sends students to El Salvador in partnership with the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children.

“Students are already so service-minded,” Warren says. “They have such desire to be in the world and getting out there and helping. It’s really very exciting.”

-- Lesley Riva

To read more about public health policy and how one alumnus, Walter Ramos '83, is leading the conversation on comprehensive community healthcare initiatives, read "A Private Commitment to Public Health" online or on Page 38 of  RWU Magazine, Issue #8.