Department of Behavioral and Community Health

Welcome to the 2016-17 Academic Year!

If you are visiting this web page, it is likely that you or someone close to you has a strong interest in having a career in public health.  We welcome you to the discipline of public health!

No matter the political or social climate, we are all affected by new and old public health issues.  Over the past year “Zika virus” came to be a common concern – not just for citizens living in affected areas but for travelers of all types.  At the same time, we were confronted by instances of domestic and international violence that left us all questioning and searching for answers.  New problems and old problems – public health must always stand ready to contribute our knowledge and skills.  For example, with Zika, we study and teach how to craft risk messages that promote preventive actions; in terms of violence, we study and teach about the causal factors of violence and how interventions can be designed and evaluated. Public health issues surround us and they affect every aspect of our lives.  To better understand the world around us, we engage in teaching, research, and service.

The Educational Experience of Our Students.  At each level of our programs (BS, MPH, PHD), our faculty members expose students to the most current thinking and research on critical health issues.  Beyond this, students in all of our programs have the opportunity to engage with communities through internships, service learning, and research opportunities.  Not only does this involvement offer remarkable learning experiences, it provides opportunities for personal growth and professional development.  Students in all of our programs have personalized attention from full-time program directors, advisors, and mentors and upon graduation, they can be sure that we have worked diligently to prepare them for the next steps in their careers.  We take particular pride in the many teaching and mentoring awards that have been bestowed on our faculty members from both the university and national organizations.  We are particularly proud of a group of exciting new elective courses we have developed for our undergraduates. 

Changes to Our Undergraduate Academic Program.  The Department of Behavioral and Community Health undergraduate degree provides a well-rounded and thorough introduction to public health, especially as it applies to interventions at the community level.  New to our program this year:

  • Students can now specialize in one of three areas (health communication, special populations, or risky behaviors) through the use of their elective credits.
  • Students can apply for a limited number of summer internship slots so they can graduate without coming back for an additional fall semester.
  • We will offer new spring electives in Aging and Health and LGBT Health Issues.

Our Research.  BCH faculty members are actively engaged in research that affects the lives of people both nationally and internationally.  Here are three examples – for a full list go to our research link:

  • Dr. Dina Borzekowski and colleagues conduct program evaluation research on international Sesame Street interventions.
  • Dr. Pamela Clark leads innovative laboratory research on tobacco products.  
  • Dr. Cheryl Holt studies cancer health disparities within communities.

Some of the distinguishing characteristics of BCH faculty research include the broad scope of settings in which research is conducted and the methods that are used, the inclusion of community members and students in the conduct of research, and the timeliness and importance of the topics. 

Community Service.  Community service is central to the identity of the department and it is infused throughout our educational and research programs.  For example, students in our undergraduate programs conduct community health fairs and seniors fulfill 12 credits of a community-based internship.  Beyond that, faculty, staff, and students promote and participate in a variety of service activities throughout the year.

A Special Year.  Throughout this year we will celebrate the many contributions of Dr. Robin Sawyer – a beloved teacher and mentor who has taught human sexuality to thousands of students – who will retire next summer.  Thus, we are calling this the “Year of the Robin.”

We have a vibrant department with outstanding faculty, caring mentors and advisors, dedicated staff, and students who want to make a difference in the health and well-being of others.  We invite you to join us!

To your health!

Barbara Curbow

Professor and Chair

Department of Behavioral and Community Health