OWU to offer public health program, major


Special to The Gazette - [email protected]



Ohio Wesleyan University is adding a new Public Health program and Public Health major in fall 2023 to prepare students for careers focused on promoting wellness and preventing disease.

“We are excited to add these Public Health offerings at Ohio Wesleyan,” said Christopher Fink, Ph.D., director of the new program and major. “Public health workers are critical to keeping communities healthy, preventing and managing pandemics, working toward social justice, managing disaster relief, and increasing access to health care and quality of life for all.”

Students who earn a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health at Ohio Wesleyan will be prepared to enter the workforce or any graduate program related to public or global health, said Fink, who also serves the university as an associate professor of Health and Human Kinetics.

“This could be in a government, nonprofit, or private sector setting, and could include work in community health education or research, data management, health system administration, and more,” Fink said, “or graduate study in a range of public health subdisciplines, as well as medical school, veterinary school, public policy, or law school.”

Vanessa Hildebrand, Ph.D., assistant professor of Sociology and Anthropology, also is helping to oversee Ohio Wesleyan’s new Public Health offerings.

“Public health practitioners seek to prevent ill health in the future and understand the spread and incidence of disease across populations,” Hildebrand said, noting that the goals of OWU’s program and major include teaching students to:

• View health less abstractly and more, as stated by the World Health Organization, as “a resource which permits people to lead an individually, socially, and economically productive life.”

• Develop a broad and interdisciplinary perspective on individual and collective health and well-being.

• Adopt a global health perspective throughout the program, focusing on health issues and related factors from around the world.

• Develop competency in diversity, equity, and inclusion concepts and practices as they relate to public health challenges and opportunities and become a resource for their community, workplace, and society as a whole.

• Understand the history of public health, landmark studies in the field, and the ethics of public health practice.

Every Ohio Wesleyan student majoring in Public Health will complete a hands-on learning experience outside the classroom, such as an internship at an agency or healthcare organization, or a research project with faculty.

The program also will include coursework in a variety of fields that impact global public health, such as communication, economics, sociology, and nutrition. Students will develop skills to identify, analyze, and help solve public health problems and inequities.

“Public health efforts around the world require that people are trained in public health, but also in law, data analytics, history, biology, and more,” Fink said, “so public health is a great fit for OWU, where we work hard to help students understand issues from multiple academic perspectives. Our new program also will include on-campus speakers and events as well as off-campus experiences and internships to ensure our graduates are prepared to make a difference on a local, national, and global basis.”

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Public Health offerings at www.owu.edu/publichealth.

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