The College of Veterinary Medicine has added a sixth division to its list, which aims to provide multidisciplinary coverage of public health.
The Department of Public and Ecosystem Health, officially established on October 25, is the first department the college has added in more than 20 years. With the start of the new academic center, the strategic plan 2018-2022 for the department is to solve the world’s most pressing health challenges – the focus is on sustainability, equity and engagement, according to Prof. Alexander Travis, reproductive biology and founding professor.
Although Cornell has a major in Global and Public Health Sciences and a Masters in Public Health at the College of Human Ecology, this new department provides a hub for students and faculty members from various disciplines such as ecology, social sciences, and politics to gather – association by veterinarians, researchers, Ph.D. Students and health professionals.
The division’s 26 founding faculty members all come from the current divisions of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The duties of these faculty members include participating in public or clinical public health practice, teaching the veterinary or master’s public health curriculum, and overseeing professional and graduate research.
According to Travis, the idea for the department came from a planning session at the Atkinson Center for Sustainability, a place for collaborative sustainable research at Cornell’s colleges and schools. Travis and colleagues proposed a public health program that would address emerging health threats such as antibiotic resistance, biodiversity conservation, and diet.
But in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, the plans were put on hold. The department officially went into operation about six years ago.
The division is organized around three major challenges that seek to address major societal issues – including achieving healthy and sustainable food systems, tackling health threats such as emerging infectious diseases like the COVID-19 pandemic, and conserving biodiversity.
“We are in our planet’s sixth mass extinction crisis, and all three of these challenges go very well together,” said Travis. “It’s about bringing about change. We have a mix of tenure track and practice professors who work with students. It’s a very committed approach to learning. ”
As the department continues to develop, she hopes to further encourage students to deal with world problems in their careers. One such goal is to increase the combinations of degrees that students can pursue, such as: B. MS / MPH, DVM / MPH and Ph.D./MPH programs.
For now, the current offers on campus are causing a stir.
“I’m getting emails from other faculties on campus checking back to see if they can get in touch with the department,” said Travis. “It seems like people are excited about what we’re trying to do.”