Wittenberg adds public health major as result of pandemic

Wittenberg University has added a new major in public health as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and it will begin enrolling students this fall.

A release said the university is the only liberal arts college in Ohio to offer a major in public health, which is the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting human health through organized efforts and informed choices.

“Public health is a rapidly growing major that is inherently interdisciplinary with the liberal arts and sciences at its foundation,” said Marie Bashaw, professor and director of nursing, who will serve as the public health program’s administrator.

“Not only is it a field that is driven by student demand, it is also a field driven by high need. The COVID-19 epidemic made this clear. However, the need was present prior to COVID-19 as is evidenced by the significant disparity in the population health between groups with privilege and groups without.”

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This major will be the fourth new track as part of the university’s partnership with Rize Education, which is a higher education company that uses a course-sharing model to help expand opportunities at the college by creating shared majors and adopting high-demand programs. The other tracks include neuroscience, supply chain management and project management.

The curriculum will introduce students to the areas of public health, including environmental health, epidemiology, community and global health, health policy, social and behavioral health, and ground their studies in medical humanities and social sciences. It will also include a foreign language requirement to make sure it meets the needs of diverse populations to improve health care access for all.

“Through its curriculum and community health practicum, the public health major prepares students to work with a range of communities through evidence-based and culturally competent practice,” Bradshaw said.

Students who finish this major will be prepared for careers such as healthcare administrator, health and safety engineer, environmental specialist and health educator, according to Rize. It can also provide paths toward graduate programs, as well as a course for pre-medical students and a crossover into economics, anthropology, nursing and sociology.

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Plans are also being considered to offer a minor in public health.

Rize, a higher education company, uses a course-sharing model that helps private colleges and universities expand educational opportunities for students while lowering institutional costs. The consortium helps schools create new shared majors, using curricula developed and taught by leading experts from industry and academia.

With the help of Rize, Wittenberg can adopt high-demand programs, with all new tracks using courses available through the LCMC on the Rize platform.

The LCMC is a partnership of private colleges and universities that collaborate with Rize to provide access to curriculum that prepares students for successful careers.

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