Joan Wertz, Professor of Psychology  |   Published April 02, 2017

Why Pursue Global Public Health?

New triad program crosses disciplines and borders
  • Professor Joan Wertz is collaborating with peers from multiple disciplines to establish the Global Public Health program.
Since it was selected as our second Triad for Excellence, my colleagues and I have been working hard to spread the word about the Global Public Health program to our current and prospective students, and to the broader community.   When I talk with others about the new program, I am frequently asked to explain the Triad concept, and what I think a Triad based on Global Public Health has to offer our students.   A Triad brings together faculty members from three distinct disciplines who share an interest in a complex problem or issue facing the world. In our case, the issue is how to improve physical and mental health in our local communities, as well as in communities around the globe.   With my background in health psychology, I will anchor one leg of the Triad. To complete the Triad, we will hire one faculty member in the Kinesiology Department and another in the Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Department. Together, we will lead the charge to inspire our students to become global leaders and problem solvers as the world faces a variety of health challenges.   Monmouth College is in a strong position to provide an educational experience that will encourage students to prepare to tackle these complex problems. As a liberal arts institution, we have a long history of providing a challenging and well-rounded education to our students—one which emphasizes the integration of knowledge from a variety of perspectives and the development of strong communication skills. The Global Public Health Triad will build upon these core values by providing an interdisciplinary approach to health, as well as experiential learning opportunities.   The newly approved minor in Global Public Health Studies includes two new interdisciplinary courses, “Introduction to Public Health” and “Introduction to Epidemiology,” and electives from more than 10 academic programs on campus. Each student in the program will gain hands-on experience in real-world health issues by completing an internship or independent study related to health, or participating in an off-campus study program that explores global health issues.   My hope is that the Global Public Health minor will attract students from many different disciplines when they see how it can complement their major field of study. Of course, students who are already considering careers in medicine, nursing, and physical and occupational therapy will likely have a natural affinity for the courses, if not the minor. But so, too, should students in business, political science, sociology, communications and education (to name just a few).   The world needs scientists and health care workers, but it also needs administrators, policy makers, social workers, communication specialists and educators to help us improve health and health care.   Now that the new minor and courses are in place, we are focusing our efforts on hiring the two new faculty members to complete the Triad. Once those key individuals are on board, we will fully launch the program, which will include lectures, guest visits and programming on campus; taking students to regional and national conferences; and establishing new global immersion experiences and off-campus study opportunities for students.   Additionally, I have been working with the staff at the Wackerle Career and Leadership Center to make sure we not only have internships available for our students, but that we will also work to continually expand those options.   I would love to hear from alumni and friends of the College with experience in the health field as we move forward with the program. We will reach out to identify speakers to bring to campus, internship opportunities and global travel experiences, and alumni and friends can be of enormous help as we work to provide an outstanding experience for our students. I look forward to working with many of you in the future.
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