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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Columbia: Celebrates Sociomedical Sciences 50 Years

A half century ago, it was a time of radical change in the world of public health, not least of all at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, which in 1968 became the first school of public health to offer a graduate degree in the social sciences with a focus on health.

Throughout this academic year, the Columbia Department of Sociomedical Sciences (SMS) is celebrating its first half-century with a series of lectures, including the legacy of 1960s health activism, and topics from youth tobacco use to energy insecurity.

In the years since, SMS has grown to 28 full-time faculty, 167 master’s students, and 29 doctoral students, with faculty research sites in Asia, Africa, Europe, and Latin America. The department has seen numerous highlights, among them, the creation of the Center for History and Ethics, a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center; the Harlem Health Promotion Center; and the Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion. Faculty examine topics spanning HIV, incarceration prevention, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBT) health, menstrual hygiene, occupational health, substance use, urban health policy, and beyond.

A formal celebratory event is taking place on April 11th. Incoming chair Dr. Kathleen Sikkema will deliver the keynote address. Acting chair, Dr. James Colgrove and Dean Linda Fried will give opening remarks. A panel discussion and reception will follow.

“SMS is diverse in its scope of interests and research methods, but united by a desire to address the social forces that shape our health,” says Dr. Colgrove, who completed both his masters and doctoral degrees before joining the faculty in 2004. “Our faculty and students are dedicated to investigating the ways diseases are driven by and perpetuate inequalities among vulnerable groups, and we are committed to designing programs and policies to advance health equity.”

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