The discipline of community health sciences emphasizes that a person’s health isn’t simply about genes or habits, but also depends on where they live, work, and play. Structural issues — such as housing, discrimination, geography, and education — are key social determinants of health. These factors help explain why people who live in affluent communities can live a decade longer than those living in low-income communities.
The UCLA Fielding School of Public Health’s Department of Community Health Sciences (CHS) is ideally positioned for optimal impact in research, training, and practice in these structural issues because of its strong community ties, multidisciplinary teamwork, theory-driven approach, and practical experience.
CHS faculty are action-oriented. The department includes experts in topics such as nutrition, reproductive health, the health effects of racism, maternal and child health, cancer screenings, homelessness, disaster response, public health communications, and more. In all of these areas, CHS faculty seeks to make a difference in reducing disparities and promoting health equity.
A Culture of Collaboration
In addition to the department’s multidisciplinary orientation, CHS faculty and students are highly collaborative — across the UCLA campus, and in communities near and far. Many are active participants and leaders in school-wide centers of excellence. Taking advantage of UCLA’s vast resources and expertise, they participate in campus-wide centers and programs such as:
The CHS department has cultivated strong ongoing relationships with community-based organizations, including:
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in Los Angeles
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
California Department of Health Services
These close ties throughout the diverse Los Angeles metropolis and throughout the state are reflected in the growing emphasis on community-engaged research, in which the active participation of local partners, building on community assets, helps to ensure the relevance and sustainability of the work. They are also reflected in the many adjunct faculty members and guest lecturers from these community organizations and agencies who bring their experiences into the classroom, and in the wealth of supervised fieldwork opportunities for students.
The department also has a strong commitment to working with some of the most health-challenged communities around the world, and has well-established partnerships in many parts of Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. The curriculum features multiple courses emphasizing global health; the majority of faculty members engage in both domestic and global research; and programs such as the Global Health Certificate promote and support international research, training, and applied public health.
The growing critical mass of anti-racism and interdisciplinary scholar-activists in UCLA Fielding's Department of Community Health Sciences made me feel like my work could thrive and grow in community here.