MACON — Mercer’s Global Health Studies concentration begins this week. The concentration adds a global focus to public health, and is one of the first such undergraduate programs in the Southeast.
Public health is a growing field that touches on everything from epidemiology and infectious diseases to nutrition and diet, examining health collectively. In rich countries, such as the United States, the problems confronted by public health professionals include obesity and diabetes, while in poorer countries, often having access to enough food and proper medical care are the most pressing public health challenges. However, many of the methods and techniques used to track and address those problems are similar, making global health an ideal method of studying public health.
The first professor in the program, Dr. Monika Sawhney, has experience in public health domestically and internationally. She earned her Ph.D. from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and a bachelor’s in science, with a concentration in biology and chemistry, and masters degrees in human resource management and social work from universities in her native India. Dr. Sawhney has experience in public health in the United States and around the world, including stints in Ethiopia and as a social entrepreneur in India, where she is launching a clinic to treat diarrhea in children – one of the largest killers of children worldwide. Mercer’s international efforts, including Mercer On Mission, complement the degree, she said, and she hopes to participate in the program and eventually lead a team to India.
Dr. Sawhney went into public health, and global health, in particular, because it gave her a chance to make an impact on others. The global health degree will do that for Mercer undergraduates as well and offers a unique opportunity.
“I chose it because it gave me a chance to make a real difference in the lives of real people,” she said. “With this global health degree students can do that as well. It can be as local as your county health department or as international as working in Africa or India.”
Mercer’s new program will build skills in public health but use the College of Liberal Arts’ broad curriculum to build students’ knowledge in research, sociology and international relations, with the goal of creating well-rounded graduates who can address all public health challenges, said Dr. Mary Kot, a professor of biology and program director who helped to design the program.
As the program adds students, Dr. Kot said, the faculty will expand to meet the need. In addition to increasing students, she said, the program hopes to add specializations in the concentrations and a fifth year master’s program, in which students would earn a bachelor’s degree in global health studies and a Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Environmental Systems or a Master of Public Health, through Mercer’s business, engineering and medical schools, respectively.
About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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