Published: June 9, 2014

If the state of the world is flat, hot and crowded, the field of public health is large, diffuse and complex. That’s why the University of Colorado Boulder is giving students the ability to earn an interdisciplinary certificate in public health.

The undergraduate certificate will be open to all majors and encourage students to broaden their education to include some far-ranging elements of public health. One goal is to help prepare students in a wide range of fields for the public-health issues that, during their working lives, might land on their desks.

Matthew McQueen, associate professor of integrative physiology and director of the certificate program, emphasizes that point: “Public health is not a field that can be addressed within a single, traditional A&S academic department. It just doesn’t work.”

McQueen cites some reasons that “public health” is broad: It encompasses political issues such as how health care is delivered, social issues such as how to provide basic health-care to war refugees, and environmental issues such as how change in climate affects human health.

“It really runs the full gamut from the environment all the way down to our cells.”

The certificate program, which will require that students take courses in biology and statistics, will include two new “core” courses: "Introduction to Epidemiology,taught by McQueen, and "Introduction to Global Public Health," taught by Elisabeth Root, assistant professor of geography.

In the last four or five years, student interest has grown tremendously.

Ellie Falletta, a senior studying geography and molecular, cellular and developmental biology, said she is proud to see CU-Boulder incorporating public health into its curriculum.

“It has become clear to our generation that the problems that the world faces can no longer be tackled by the traditional fields of study alone,” she said.

“By providing more interdisciplinary certificates like public health, students from a variety of backgrounds and majors will be able to apply their knowledge from these fields and contribute to solving the crucial problems of our generation.”

To read the article in its entirety visit the College of Arts and Sciences Magazine.