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Sociology Professors to Debut Public Health Major in the Fall


Article Written by Leah Weinstein

Photo Courtesy of Roanoke College


Initiated by Sociology Professors Shannon Anderson and Chad Morris, a new public health major will take its place in the Sociology Department starting in the fall of 2017.


Anderson and a cohort of eight faculty members began meeting in the fall of 2015 to discuss what a public health major would look like at Roanoke College.


Over the past year and a half, this team of professors has managed to research the public health field, visit other colleges and universities with current public health curricula, and meet with local hospitals like Carillion and the Virginia Tech Medical School at Carillion, in hopes of creating mutually beneficial relationships to serve the major.


After the retirement of Dr. Gregory Weiss, former chair of the Healthcare Delivery concentration, Anderson and Morris said they wanted to revamp the concentration so that it would better cater to pre-med students who would get exposure to the social sciences.


Over time, both Morris and Anderson said they noticed student interest gravitating towards issues in public health.


“We had so many different kinds of students and they seemed really interested in what I would describe as the public health aspects of what we were teaching,” said Anderson.


Initial interest in public health studies came at an opportune time for the college.


“[President Maxey] wanted to engage more with health-related programming then the conversation began again,” said Anderson. “It took a long time to develop the program.”


Once the program began its developmental stage, the faculty cohort began to look both inward and outward for ideas on what a public health major may look like at Roanoke College. Initially, the field of study was not going to be public health specifically, but the cohort knew they wanted to study health in a nontraditional way unrelated to biology or chemistry.


After months of work, Anderson said the cohort focused their initiative and decided on a public health major that would task potential students with thinking about the world and health in a whole different way.


With support from the administration of the college and other faculty members, the public Health major will be an exciting addition to the academic community and will be open to students of all disciplines.