Public Health Studies

Andrea Conger, Holland Hall 424

Overview of the Concentration

Students pursuing a concentration in Public Health Studies develop an overview of the breadth of the fields comprising public health, a sense for its interdisciplinarity, and skills for interpreting and contextualizing public health research findings.  Students practice communicating the social, humanist, and biological complexities of public health across cultural, political and disciplinary boundaries. Special attention is given to understanding diverse populations and their unique circumstances domestically and globally. Completion of the public health studies concentration promotes a lifetime of informed civic engagement relevant to public health.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can I Do with Public Health Studies?
The Public Health Studies Concentration is designed to provide students a broad background in public health that can be explored across the curriculum. We are interested in giving people tools to improve health and well-being through direct care, informing the public, education which is huge, people who want to shape policy and the future of humans on this planet. We invite scientists, poets, social thinkers, writers, pre-health and the computationally inclined, entrepreneurs, organizers and activists, historians, artists, physical trainers and athletes. Anyone who is interested in social well-being, health care delivery directly – as the context of the populations served is an important context, global affairs or international service of any kind - to consider the health capabilities and constraints in other countries or respond to disasters (Pakistan’s flooding, food limitations due to the war in Ukraine….etc.), and those who have a desire to prepare for a future we cannot yet even imagine. There is a place for you in public health.

How Do I Declare the Concentration?
Students from any class can declare a Public Health Concentration starting this year. Because we are currently working with two different sets of GEs this year, the process will be slightly different depending on which class you are in. If you are a first year or sophomore in 2023-24, you can go directly into SIS and declare the same as any other concentration. Juniors and Seniors should contact the registrar who will help set up a degree path according to your specific class year. Or contact Dr. Conger directly with questions.

Why a Concentration?
While the pandemic has certainly brought public health into the public eye, the idea for a public health studies program at St. Olaf has been being explored since the early 2000s. Interest in a systematic way to pursue public health studies has had steadily growing interest over the years from both students and faculty. The concentration was a deliberate choice at this moment. It allows us to have a thoughtful and intentional way of looking at the world through the lens of public health without narrowing our focus to one field or discipline. This is an inherently interdisciplinary and collaborative field that has many diverse paths and applications so structuring something that would give students a set of tools they could apply in new and innovative ways across the curriculum that could keep up with the speed of the problems it tackles was really key in our thinking.