Global Public Health

Program Director, Global Public Health

Professor Peter Koehn is the inaugural program director for the University of Montana’s minor in Global Public Health.

Global Public Health (GPH) is an interdisciplinary field of study focusing on big issues facing the world community that will require insight and problem-solving leadership from future generations.  Coursework in the minor emphasizes a global perspective on issues of public health policy and science and applications to transnational and local (including tribal) situations and challenges.  Approved by the Board of Regents in March 2012, the GPH minor takes advantage of existing faculty expertise and courses to offer an interdisciplinary experience for interested undergraduate students. From a remarkable cross-campus team of highly qualified instructors, University of Montana students will learn about such transnationally interconnected challenges to public health as parasitic and vector-borne diseases, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, tuberculosis, climate-change impacts, trauma and violence, cancer prevention, obesity, maternal and child illnesses, nutrition, and the role of indigenous healers. The 21-credit curriculum is structured to ensure that students develop enduring understanding of determinants of illness, healing, and health from an interdisciplinary and comparative perspective. The curriculum also treats transnational, cultural, and ethical diversity and the interplay of biological, genetic, environmental, and societal forces that underlie individual and population health and illness, global health governance, and health policy within a cross-cutting exploration of ways to promote healthy behaviors and health equity. Core faculty will explore public-health issues utilizing insights available from disciplinary approaches that include epidemiology, anthropology, biology, political science, community-health planning, communication studies, and ethics.

Students who pursue the Global Public Health minor will become more informed and engaged citizens and will enhance their major field of study by preparing for a broad range of professions and graduate programs where they can promote global, local, and tribal public-health knowledge, research, and practice. A GPH minor opens transnational career pathways in well-funded global health projects for graduates who have expertise in business, law, economics, community health, social work, pharmacy, nursing, environmental sciences, and the natural sciences. Some graduates will advocate for the health-care needs of distant disadvantaged populations through service in the Peace Corps, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), foundations, and international organizations. Others will utilize their awareness of global health issues to inform careers in research, health education and management, international economics, medicine, international business, immigrant health, philanthropy, diplomacy, public policy, and international public service.

The GPH minor requires completion of 21 credits, at least 9 of which must be at the upper-division (300+) level. Students must complete one required social-science course (PSCI 227, Introduction to Global Health Issues) and one required science course (BIOM 227, Epidemiology of Vector-Bourne and Parasitic Diseases). Students must complete a minimum 9 credits or 3 additional “core” courses, some of which are offered biannually. Students also must complete a minimum of 6 credits or 2 additional “content” courses. Students must take all core courses from The University of Montana’s curriculum, but can receive content credit for relevant practicum and internships experience and for relevant courses taken at other universities if approved by the program director.

Interested students need to complete the “add a minor” section on the “change of major” form and secure the signature of the program director.  This form can be obtained from the program director or the Registrar’s office. Students who elect to minor in Global Public Health also should consider completing the four courses needed to receive the Specialization in Health certificate awarded by the Peace Corps. The University of Montana is the only university that offers this specialization certificate.

One semester prior to graduation, the program director must approve and sign the student’s graduation plan.  Students are asked to complete a written exit interview for the purpose of program assessment.