Lehigh’s College of Health will be the first undergraduate program in the world to offer a bachelor of science in population health, director of administration Sherry Buss said at a Feb. 11 information session.
“Our vision is to improve the health of populations and communities through science, innovation and action,” Buss said. “The curriculum is based on a culmination of education, service and research.”
The College of Health’s development began with the university’s Path to Prominence campaign. Whitney Witt became the dean in January 2019, with Buss joining in June. Buss said the College of Health has been in the process of hiring more faculty.
The College of Health will start out by launching the program in population health, along with three or four other certificates. Buss said the term “certificate” is used in the College of Health as “minor” would be. The certificates that will likely be offered are in population health, global population health, and LGBTQ+ health. The B.S. in population health will require a minimum of 124 credits.
“Through the courses and programming that the College of Health will offer, we can expose students to the emerging fields of population health, which is unique to academia at the undergraduate level,” Buss said.
Eduardo Gomez, an associate professor in the College of Health, will be teaching history of population health.
Gomez spent time working in Brazil, researching and comparing HIV/AIDS, and the factors causing obesity in Brazil and the U.S.
“My research is what got me interested in population health, and understanding how political science can provide new insights in population health issues,” Gomez said.
Tess McGinley, ‘23, is majoring in health medicine and society, and minoring in earth and environmental sciences. She said the College of Health will have programs that tie her interdisciplinary major into one category.
Before choosing Lehigh, McGinley said she attended various information sessions and fundraisers for the College of Health in California.
“The health, medicine and society major is what initially brought me to Lehigh, but the College of Health is what solidified that this is what I want to do,” McGinley said.
The College of Health will be housed in the new Health, Science and Technology Building, currently under construction. The building is expected to open fall 2021.
Buss said there will be research lab space in the new building, which will focus on artificial intelligence and data analytics. The building will also have visualization labs and a population health data warehouse.
Buss said the program will be predominantly first-year students and sophomores. Upperclassmen may steer toward the certificates, which she said can be attained in one year. Students can schedule advising meetings with faculty by appointment.
Since the curriculum revolves around experiential learning, most courses will have seminars coupled with hands-on experiences led by faculty.
Buss said a cohort of students has already been enrolled into the College of Health through Early Decision I and II admissions.