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Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences

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The Department of Social, Behavioral, and Population Sciences (SBPS) prepares 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 is the advancement of health equity. A broad mix of public health social scientists working in New Orleans and around the world provide our diverse students with a 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 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 possible 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.

Gretchen Clum, PhD
Associate Professor and Interim Chair

Katherine Theall, PhD
Professor and Vice Chair

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