The Yale School of Public Health is going to college.
In the coming year, YSPH plans to expand the Yale Global Health Studies Program, an undergraduate concentration that accepts 15-18 Yale College students every year. The projected growth comes as a response to the findings of the YSPH Goals and Priorities 2014-’15 report, which called for bolstering the program’s offerings. By adding another public health course in epidemiology, and bringing in YSPH faculty to teach courses at the College, the YSPH administration and program directors hope to satisfy an increasing demand amongst undergraduates for global health courses.
“The goal is to meet the needs across campus of students who are really interested in taking on global health as a multidisciplinary challenge, and there’s considerable faculty expertise at YSPH that can meet that need,” said Kristina Talbert-Slagle, senior scientific officer of the Global Health Leadership Institute.
According to Dean of the School of Public Health Paul Cleary, epidemiology, environmental health and infectious diseases are all gaps within the undergraduate program that YSPH faculty could help fill. The first priority is a basic epidemiology course, said Elizabeth Bradley, Branford College master and director of the Global Health Initiative and Global Health Leadership Institute. She added that epidemiology is “the ABCs of Public Health,” but Yale College doesn’t even have a introductory course in the subject.
Over time, she said YSPH may also offer an undergraduate course in food or nutrition policy, filling a gap that was created when Kelly Brownell, former director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, left Yale in 2013.
“It won’t be transformational instantly, but over time we’ll be able to offer some more critical courses,” Bradley said.
According to Kaveh Khoshnood, director of both the Global Health Studies Program and the School’s BA/BS-MPH degree program, YSPH faculty members have been extremely supportive of the decision to expand offerings in the College.
The undergraduate interest in global health came to the University’s attention seven years ago, when between 700 and 800 students petitioned the College course on global health, Khoshnood said. YSPH responded with “Global Health Challenges and Responses,” a highly regarded lecture course in which 137 students are currently enrolled.
Before that, Khoshnood said, undergraduates showed up at the offices of YSPH faculty members, asking to be admitted to their graduate courses. Those constant requests inspired the current undergraduate Program, as well as the five-year BA/BS-MPH program.
“The motivating factor behind all of [these changes] is bottom up,” Khoshnood said. “The Global Health Studies Program was not created at the School of Public Health, and then introduced to Yale College. It was undergraduates who got organized.”
With the growth of the program, and the School of Public Health getting on board, administrators are again simply responding to student demand, he said.
There are currently 30 students enrolled in the Global Health Studies Program.