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Archives For September 2012

What is public health?

Public health impacts our lives every day. The study of public health addresses many of the most pressing issues of our time, from ensuring access to safer foods and controlling the spread of disease to providing support for individuals to improve their diet or quit smoking. As our nation’s health challenges continue to grow, the United States faces an imminent shortage of public health professionals.

To help fill this need, the College of Charleston developed a one-of-a-kind interdisciplinary undergraduate degree in Public Health, allowing students to pursue either a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). The Bachelor of Arts degree is housed in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and this undergraduate public health program is one of the first of its kind in the nation. Students who choose this major may be interested in the growing areas of health communication, health policy, or even health administration.  In addition to four required courses (Introduction to Public Health, Global Health, Epidemiology, and Health Communication), the B.A. degree offers interdisciplinary courses in the following departments: Anthropology, Biology, Communication, Environmental Studies, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and Urban Studies.  Faculty members from all of these departments will contribute courses related to public health in their area of specialty. These faculty will continue to build ties to the local and national health community, providing students with the opportunity for internships and jobs with local and national health organizations.

Beth Sundstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H.

One new faculty member, Beth Sundstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H., an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication specializing in Strategic Health Communication, will teach in the public health program. Dr. Sundstrom brings strategic health communication consulting experience to her undergraduate and graduate courses on such topics as strategic communication, social marketing, and health communication. According to Dr. Sundstrom:

“Public health is a multidisciplinary field drawing on expertise from an eclectic array of academic and practical approaches. This degree offers students access to a diversity of scholarship with the goal of positioning them to be thinkers and leaders in the field of public health.”

What can students do with a degree in public health?

Graduates will be prepared for a variety of careers in public health. They may choose to work as an environmental policy advisor, HIV/AIDS advocate, or legislative assistant for the federal government, in such agencies as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Non-profit organizations, such as a local chapter of a national non-profit like the American Heart Association or local organizations such as the Lowcountry Food Bank or the Center for Women offer opportunities to work as health educators or health administrators. Graduates might coordinate market research for consulting firms or serve private companies as management policy advisors. Others may choose careers as health journalists or strategic communication professionals. The B.A. in public health also prepares students to pursue advanced degrees, such as a Master of Public Health (MPH) or a Master of Health Administration (MHA).

About B.A. Program Director, Jenifer Kopfman, Ph.D.

Jen Kopfman, Ph.D.

The B.A. program will be directed by Dr. Jenifer Kopfman, an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication.  Dr. Kopfman has extensive teaching, research and applied experience in communication and public health.  With a research focus in health communication, she has designed and evaluated health campaigns, investigating health topics ranging from organ donation to cancer screening. Her research interests led to positions as a Health Communication Research Fellow and Health Education Specialist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Dr. Kopfman left the CDC to join the faculty at the College of Charleston in 2007.

Dr. Kopfman said:

“I’m excited to offer our College of Charleston students the opportunity to study public health. Our students will gain real world experience addressing some of the most pressing issues of our time and engaging on the local and national level to become leaders in the field of public health.”

For more information about a Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Health, contact Dr. Kopfman at

Faculty Award Winners 2012

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 26 September 2012 | 10:38 am

Each spring, nominations for Awards for Distinction are accepted by the College from faculty and staff members.  Award winners are chosen by members of the selection committee, which include past award recipients.  This year, two members of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences were chosen!

Distinguished Teaching Award (Established 1977)

Tracy Burkett, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Professor Burkett has taught at the College since the fall of 1998 and specializes in political sociology, social networks, research methods and environmental sociology.  In addition to teaching in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tracy directed the environmental studies minor from 2008 until July of 2012.

When asked why she likes teaching at the College she said:

“The students tend to be very engaged in both the college and the broader community. In the class, this translates to students who are well-informed and curious about the way their lives intersect with broader social forces. In addition to enjoying working with students, I am surrounded by incredibly talented colleagues who love what they do, care about students, and who are generous sharing teaching experiences.”

 Follow Tracy on her blog here.


Scott Peeples, Chair and Professor, Department of English

Professor Peeples started at the College as an instructor in 1994, then began as an assistant professor in 1996.  His teaching specialities are American literature (especially the Revolutionary era and the mid-nineteenth century) and Gothicism.  Research specialties include Edgar Allan Poe, nineteenth-century print culture, and early American crime fiction.

Scott explains why he enjoys working at the College:

“I have wonderful friends and colleagues here; I love Charleston; and it’s  a pleasure to teach so many bright and energetic students. Twice I’ve had the opportunity to teach CofC students in study abroad programs, and those have been among the best teaching experiences of my career.”

Congratulations, Tracy and Scott!

Student Worker Terry Ridges

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 26 September 2012 | 9:02 am

Meet Terry Ridges.  Terry is a senior at the College majoring in psychology and minoring in health and women and gender studies.  She has helped manage the School of Humanities and Social Sciences’ front desk for almost two years now.

“The environment is really laid back.  The people are always so friendly and appreciative. I love working here!”

And we love having you here!  Thank you, Terry!

2012 Fall Faculty Meeting

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 24 September 2012 | 10:25 am

On Tuesday, September 18th, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences held the annual Fall Faculty Meeting to celebrate the wide-range of accomplishments from the past year.  In addition, new faculty members were introduced in the departments of Communication, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Psychology.  Throughout the gathering, faculty walked around the room to view their colleagues’ most recent publications—all while sipping on wine and enjoying a variety of delicious cheeses!

Take a look at some of our faculty’s most recent publications here.



Lunching with the School’s Admins

By Christine Ragusa
Posted on 24 September 2012 | 10:24 am

Every month, the School of Humanities and Social Sciences’ admins get together for a Brown Bag Lunch.  During that time, information is shared and suggestions are offered to one another about day-to-day tasks.  It is a great reason for everyone to get together and stay in touch.

Pictured from left to right: Rena Provo, History; Katie Monk, School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Missy Page, Sociology and Anthropology; Erin Blevins, Political Science; Tracie Mitchum, Religious Studies; Christine Ragusa, School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Jillian Clayton, English; Melissa Calcutt, Psychology

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