As part of a strategic plan to strengthen the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine’s academic offerings, effective July 1, 2021, the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences (GCHB) will be divided into two departments to better serve students and better align the teaching faculty. The two new departments will be the Department of International Health and Sustainable Development and the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (SBPS).
Dr. David Hotchkiss, interim chair of GCHB, says the shift is the result of more than a year of discussion involving department faculty and school leadership about the best path for the department’s future.
“This school has a long and distinguished history in international health that wasn’t as visible as it could be within such a large department,” said Dean Thomas LaVeist when the new departments were announced. “I’m excited by the prospect of bringing greater attention to the school’s historic work in international settings, while preparing students for the present and, most importantly, sustainable future of the field of international health.”
Dr. Eva Silvestre is director of the International Health and Sustainable Development MPH Program, which will shift to the new department largely unchanged. The School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine was an early leader in the field of international health and conducts research and health programs in countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The addition of sustainable development to the title better reflects the school’s long-standing focus on capacity building and the deep connections faculty hold with ministries and NGOs in many different countries.
“Similarly, by establishing the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences, we will bring together faculty whose work transcends boundaries and is fully grounded in the important work of social and behavioral sciences,” LaVeist went on to add.
Dr. Gretchen Clum will direct the new MPH in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences, which will debut in Fall 2021. The program will provide flexibility for students to tailor electives around content areas such as health promotion, social epidemiology, public health demography, community engagement, nutrition, maternal and child health, sexual and reproductive health, and violence prevention. Program faculty are working with the school’s curriculum committee to develop graduate certificates in many of these areas to provide even greater value for students who wish to focus their studies in this way.
Initially, the two departments will share a PhD program in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences, directed by Dr. David Seal. SBPS will also offer a DrPH degree in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences.
The decision to establish the two new departments is critical to the school’s “strategy to strengthen our leadership role in preparing future generations of public health professionals to work locally and throughout the rest of the world,” says Hotchkiss. “I am excited by the opportunity to work with Dean LaVeist, Tulane faculty, and the rest of the Tulane community on the transition process.”
Faculty in GCHB are selecting the department that best aligns with their teaching and research interests, and they can opt to hold a primary appointment in one department with a secondary appointment in the other, pending chair approval.