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Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (SBPS)

June 11, 2020, rally, SOM, SPHTM, community, photo by Sally Asher.

On Thursday, June 11, 2020, hundreds of Tulane School of Medicine, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and LSU School of Medicine faculty, researchers and students, as well as essential personnel from nearby hospitals, and community members, united in a peaceful protest against police brutality and racism. Photo by Sally Asher. 

Coming July 1, 2021: The Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (SBPS) will prepare future generations of highly skilled, socially conscious, and culturally sensitive public health professionals for careers in program development, research, evaluation, and community–based health. The department’s central goal will be the advancement of health equity. The department will be comprised of a broad mix of public health social scientists working in New Orleans and around the world to provide our diverse students rigorous grounding in social, behavioral, and population science methods as applied to health interventions and etiologic research at the individual, community, and societal levels. This work sheds light on the behavioral, social, and structural underpinnings of health inequities, and potential solutions to address them. Through coursework, discussions, and related activities, SBPS faculty will guide students in their understanding of health as it relates to decision–making; economic, social, and cultural stratification; and power, place, and history.

Department faculty include scholars committed to interdisciplinary research, teaching, and practice and represent a variety of disciplines including psychology, sociology, social epidemiology, anthropology, economics, demography, and urban planning. Faculty research interests and content areas students will be able to pursue include:

  • Social determinants of health and health equity –– including social policy, racism, neighborhood conditions, and violence
  • Social epidemiology –– including qualitative and quantitative methods such as geographic information systems and data science
  • Health promotion and prevention science –– including m-health and multilevel intervention development as well as social innovation
  • Public health demography –– including migration, displacement, and mobility
  • Community engagement and participatory research –– including asset-based, strengths–based, and human–centered design

Cross–cutting areas in the department and throughout the school include research and training in nutrition, maternal and child health, and sexual and reproductive health, all of which are vitally important to understanding and promotion of health equity.

Programs

The goal of the department will be to offer a single MPH degree in Social Behavioral and Population Sciences. Students will have the opportunity to augment their degree by completing a certificate program in one of several topical areas. These topic areas will not only fulfill elective requirements but will also provide students with a useful area of specialization that will add depth to their studies and will give them an edge in the competitive job market. That degree is being vetted by the school's Curriculum Committee, after which it will be undergo review by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH).

During the first transition year (2021–2022), the department will support four MPH degrees carried over from the Department of Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences (GCHB). These degrees -- in Community Health Sciences, Health Education and Communication, Maternal and Child Health, and Nutrition -- are central components of social, behavioral, and population sciences. The department will also offer an MPH program in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences. For each MPH degree, students complete a total of 45 credit hours, including the schools Foundational Curriculum that provides a cross–cutting, integrated approach to the knowledge and skills relevant to public health practice. Health equity has become a particular focus of the entire school and promises to be interwoven throughout the curriculum.

The department will also serve as the home of two doctoral degrees. The DrPH program in Social Behavioral and Population Sciences will provide advanced training for professionals in applied public health program development, evaluation, and program-relevant research in promoting community health in a global context. The PhD program will train experts who will advance the field of social, behavioral, and population sciences through research, development and application of theory, and teaching. Graduates will gain in-depth expertise necessary for a research career, and are expected to develop careers in universities, medical schools, and other higher institutions of learning as faculty members or in research organizations globally. 

Have a particular interest? Want to be kept up to date when programs have been approved and are available for application? Reach out directly to faculty whose interests align with yours! Our faculty are always eager to talk to both prospective and current students. You can also reach out to the interim chair of GCHB, Dr. David Hotchkiss, who will be happy to help connect you with a student or faculty to discuss your interests.