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Degree in public health/ urban planning to support community health effort

by Julie Heflin, HSC communications and marketing last modified Mar 06, 2012 08:48 AM

The University of Louisville is admitting students to a new master’s degree program that combines public health and urban planning. Designed to educate future professionals about how infrastructure and design affects the health and well-being of the community, graduates of the program receive two degrees: Master of Urban Planning (MUP) and Master of Public Health (MPH).

The MUP-MPH program prepares students for careers in urban design and health, urban public health planning and development, urban sustainability and health planning and policy.

It is a collaboration of the MUP program in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Urban and Public Affairs and the MPH program in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences (SPHIS). The program was developed as a project of Louisville’s Putting Prevention to Work grant, which the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2010 through the federal stimulus program. UofL received $135,301 to create the joint degree.

Susan Olson Allen, PhD, assistant professor, SPHIS, and David Simpson, PhD, associate professor, director, Master of Urban Planning Program, College of Arts and Sciences, headed the degree development process.

The degree will give people who pursue a profession in public health a better understanding of how to develop and implement programs aimed at the needs of a specific community, and people who pursue a profession in urban planning will have the tools necessary to create spaces that promote healthier lifestyles, according to Olson Allen.

“In one of the classes I teach called ‘public health and the built environment,’ I ask students to evaluate a two-block section of downtown Louisville and design it in such a way to make it a healthier place to live,” she said. “Some students incorporate safer paths for pedestrians, more green space and grocery stores that include healthier food choices.”

This exercise helps students think critically about possibilities for revamping established infrastructure and creating new designs with healthy opportunities, she said.

“This dual degree is important to the training of future public health professionals who will  make our cities healthier through urban planning ingenuity,” said LaQuandra Nesbitt, director, Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness and an SPHIS faculty member.

Students must be accepted to the MUP and MPH programs separately. The deadline to apply for fall 2012 admission to the MUP program is July 15; the deadline is Aug. 1 for the MPH program.

Complete information on the dual degree program is online (PDF). For more information on the application process, call Tammi Thomas, 852-3289 or Yani Vozos, 852-8002.

During National Public Health Week, there will be information sessions on the MPH program, April 4, noon–1 p.m., in conference room 103 at the School of Public Health & Information Sciences, 485 E. Gray St., and April 5, noon–1 p.m. in Room W210, Ekstrom Library, 2301 S. Third St. Lunch is provided for those who RSVP to sphismph@louisville.edu by March 30.

 

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