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Department of International Health and Sustainable Development

Pregnant woman receiving an influenza vaccination at the Maternal and Child Hospital in Vientiane, Laos; photo courtesy of Unsplash via the CDC

Pregnant woman receiving an influenza vaccination at the Maternal and Child Hospital in Vientiane, Laos. Photo from CDC, courtesy of Unsplash. 

International Health has been a historic part of SPTHM’s identity and mission from the beginning of the school and has played a vital role in achieving the school’s mission. Stanford Chaillé, an early Tulane professor and dean, was one of the four members of the Havana Yellow Fever Commission who worked with Carlos Finlay, a Cuban national who first broached the idea that mosquitos carry the Yellow Fever virus. Our graduates are now scattered all over the world working in public health.

Beginning July 1, 2021, the Department of International Health and Sustainable Development will begin a new era of research and education in the effort to make the world a healthier place. The department will have a robust portfolio of sponsored research that is grounded in:

  • Addressing health and underlying economic development problems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
  • Systems-level issues, in addition to individual-level factors, that influence health and development.
  • Non-clinical intervention research to inform evidence-based decision making by global institutions like the World Health Organization and the World Bank, host governments, bilateral development partners such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Department for International Development (DFID), and foundations including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • A focus on interdisciplinary research covering both the social sciences, including sociology, economics, and anthropology, and epidemiology, using a mix of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • A long-standing reputation with global health agencies and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USAID, DFID, the Gates Foundation, and public-private partnerships.

Countries with which we have long-standing ties and valued connections include: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Vietnam, Peru, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba, and Mexico, and our research portfolio continues to grow and change from year to year. Department and school faculty have partnered with ministries of health, community organizations, and other non-profits to address the pressing health problems that impact populations globally. We have long and deep connections in the countries in which we work, with a strong focus on local capacity building.

The department will offer one of the largest MPH programs at SPHTM. The MPH in IHSD curriculum, which mirrors the current MPH in International Health and Development, will offer a balance between structure and flexibility so that students can fulfill their unique academic needs with coursework that can adapt to important emerging areas in the field. The hallmark of the program is advanced skills in monitoring and evaluation in a global context. In addition, part of the MPH education in IHSD is to familiarize students into the world of health interventions in LMICs, which is very different than the U.S. context. The emphasis on both skills and context familiarity is designed to make graduates attractive for employment at international non-governmental organizations, public private partnerships, and non-profit research and consultancy firms.

The present MPH program in International Health and Development will relocate to this new department. We have lots of great plans in store for the program including thematic certificates that will add context and specialization to the degree.

In the short-term, the PhD program will be housed in the Department of Social Behavioral and Population Sciences, but students interested in a doctoral degree in International Health and Sustainable Development will work with faculty in IHSD. The degree will ultimately be divided between the departments, although we will continue to encourage cross-collaboration.