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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. 

Update: applications are now being accepted for the inaugural chair of for the Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences. The position description and instructions for applying can be found here.

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.


The new Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences is excited to offer five MPH degree programs in its inaugural year:

The newest of these programs – the MPH in Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences – will equip students with theoretical foundations and methodological tools to address social determinants of health, health inequities, and other important topics at the nexus of social science and health. The department will also offer the four classic, longstanding MPH degree programs in Community Health Sciences, Health Education and Communication, Maternal and Child Health, and Nutrition. All five of these programs are housed in the department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences, as they are central to the field and are run by faculty members in this department. For each MPH degree, students complete a total of 45 credit hours, including the school’s 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.

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.