UC Santa Cruz students who want to build a future with better and more equitable health outcomes will have the opportunity to declare one of two new global and community health majors, starting in the fall of 2022.
A Bachelor of Arts in Global and Community Health will train students to address the social determinants of health, fostering skills that will enable them to serve as future leaders in health care, health policy, public health, and science. community organization. And a Bachelor of Science in Global and Community Health will offer two concentration options – biomedical or public and community health – which will prepare students for careers in patient care or roles in health administration, public health and defense of rights.
new collegeaffiliated with the Division of Social Sciences, will serve as the administrative headquarters for degrees, providing one-stop shopping for counseling, as well as career guidance.
The two new majors will begin with a combined introductory course, called Foundations for Global and Community Health, which teaches students a common set of terms, analytical approaches, and frameworks for health issues in the natural sciences, the social sciences and the humanities. Exposure to these diverse approaches to health will also help students decide which of the BA or BS pathways best suits their goals and interests.
Students in the BS stream will focus more on STEM courses that are often required by medical schools and other higher-level patient care training programs. Students who choose the The Public and Community Health concentration will also provide opportunities for non-STEM electives. And those following the BA track will develop health skills in bio-environmental sciences, political-cultural contexts and a mix of quantitative, qualitative and human methods.
At the end of the major, students from both degrees will come together again for a capstone course that will invite them to combine their various skills and specializations of knowledge for a team project, in which they will research problems and possible solutions. around a real-world challenge. in global and community health. Professor of Politics Matt Sparke, executive director of the Global and Community Health Program, said this kind of cross-disciplinary collaboration is needed to address emerging health threats, and UCSC’s new majors aim to equip students for this future.
“We need a holistic approach to addressing global and community health challenges,” Sparke said. “This calls for many disciplines to come together to address these issues, understand their history, and think about ways to intervene and alleviate the suffering and death caused by health crises, both locally and globally.”
Treat health problems at the source
New majors in global and community health offer a vision of health that aims to reduce inequalities in an increasingly globalized and interconnected world.
“Global forces impact our local health outcomes, so you can’t really understand local health without understanding those forces,” Sparke said. “It’s not just about the spread of disease around the world; it is also about the global economic, political and cultural conditions that can promote poor health or well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated many of these strengths, Sparke says. Glimpses of UCSC Faculty and other experts around the world revealed how the impact of the pandemic has been more severe for marginalized and socio-economically vulnerable groups. Wealthier countries also had better access to vaccines, and public health organizations have warned that resulting gaps in immunity could allow continued global spread of COVID-19 and the emergence of new variants.
Major news stories in global and community health incorporate lessons like these about how communities’ health perspectives are tied to global and local power relations. Students will also learn how human health is based on planetary health and is affected by the challenges of the climate crisis, pollution, and species loss. And they will combine a broad global health perspective with an understanding of how to imagine and implement solutions at the community level, with the participation of community partners.
“Global health programs are most effectively organized when they include local community ownership and public sector participation,” Sparke said. “They cannot be top-down world edicts. They must be locally meaningful, locally connected and in local partnership with people, in order to become inclusive and sustainable.
Major news in global and community health will also encourage a proactive approach to health that considers not just how to treat illness, but how to support the elements of well-being that can prevent illness. Professor of Anthropology Nancy N. Chen, a member of the Executive Committee of Global and Community Health Majors who leads an affiliate company student scholarship programsays a crucial part of wellness is focusing on the community.
“People can do everything right – eat the right things, see a healthcare professional when they can – but where we live has a huge influence on our health, including the healthcare services we have access to” , Chen said. “We need to be aware not only of individual actions to take care of ourselves, but also of how we can take care of each other by ensuring well-being on a systemic level.”
Train the healthcare leaders of tomorrow
UC Santa Cruz’s long history of research, education, and impact on social justice, biomedical sciences, community studies, and environmental sustainability positions the campus well to train the next generation of leaders in global health and community. The program will also build on the campus’ strengths in interdisciplinary education.
The program’s faculty instructors will include influential researchers in health-related fields from the physical and biological sciences, social sciences, and humanities divisions. Students will have the opportunity to learn directly from trusted voices at the national level on topics ranging from health statistics and globalization and food justice to neglected tropical diseases, cancer and genomics. In recent years, the university has also expanded its base of expertise, with the addition of 11 new core faculty members in global and community health who have been hired to support program development.
Valerie Cortez, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, is one such key faculty member. She studies the viruses that cause diarrheal disease in young children, and she will teach a new epidemiology course for global and community health majors. She was excited to join the program, in part because her own background in epidemiology and molecular cell biology instilled in her an appreciation for interdisciplinary education.
“I’m thrilled that this program bridges the basic sciences and the social sciences, because I think we need more people who can appreciate both of these perspectives,” she said. “Medical tools generated in basic science labs and technology companies can go no further, and they are best implemented by taking into account people’s behaviors and structural barriers.”
Cortez said she looks forward to hearing questions from students about global and community health and supporting them as they explore career opportunities. Many health-related occupations are expected to grow at faster rates than the average for all occupations, according to Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Global and community health majors at UCSC can help meet the need for doctors, nurses, social workers, mental health specialists, public health and policy researchers, community advocates , etc.
“We want to educate the next cohort of local, national and global health leaders in a rigorously interdisciplinary way,” Sparke said. “Ultimately, we want to help our students identify multiple pathways to contribute to the health of their communities and prepare them to be agents of change after graduation.”