We at the Record commend the administration on creating a new concentration in public health. We believe that this program is a valuable addition to the College’s academic offerings and serves to maintain similar academic standards to peer institutions, many of which have already offer programs in related fields.
The multidisciplinary nature of this concentration is its greatest asset. Public health is still a vaguely defined academic field, which spans the coursework of many departments, allowing students to take classes in the sciences and the humanities. A multidisciplinary approach is in keeping with the College’s liberal arts mission, and as such, the course is an opportunity to build on that spirit of education. A concentration in public health will give students an opportunity to focus their studies on health even if they are not interested in pursuing medical studies after college and will allow those who are interested in medicine to get a look at the field from a multidivisional perspective. Further, as the concentration draws from pre-existing coursework, there will be little need to create new classes or hire new staff to maintain the concentration.
However, there is a general concern that this concentration could be too pre-professional for the College’s values. The creation of this concentration could set a precedent for the creation of other industry-specific concentrations and majors. However, the program at the College will be substantially different from a degree in public health at a research university, and we feel that the College should continue to approach the subject not as a track to a profession, but as a set of classes that center on public health as a multidisciplinary field of study. We believe it is important to note that the name of the concentration might lead to confusion, and a future change to the name of the program might be considered, following the model of justice and law studies.
The official creation of the concentration formalizes an area of study for students interested in public health, which we at the Record hope will allow for more programming around the subject outside of the classroom, like guest speakers. We also hope that it will help to organize the classes that are already offered in the area of public health. While these classes previously existed, they lacked formal organization, which meant that students were not working toward a formal goal. Hopefully, the new concentration can help define this goal.