Public health approved as Global Pathway major

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BSPH becomes one of just 10 USF majors certified in the program

In April, the USF Global Citizens Project, part of USF’s Quality Enhancement Plan, approved the COPH’s bachelor of science in public health (BSPH) degree program as a Global Pathway major. Global Pathways are majors or degree programs  that “provide students with opportunities to practice and apply global competencies through the globalization of degree programs.”

“Public health is already incredibly global in nature. As a result, this was an easy sell,” said Laura Rusnak, the faculty instructor who led the initiative to get the BSPH program certified.

Laura Rusnak, MPH, CPH, CHES, undergraduate instructor. (Photo courtesy of USF Health)

Before a major can be given Global Pathway distinction, it must, among other things, offer at least one “high-impact practice,” or active-learning practice that increases student engagement and retention, such as study abroad programming, undergraduate research, service learning or internships. The public health curriculum currently offers seven opportunities for students to engage in high-impact practices within the major.

It also must include at least two courses that fall under the Global Citizens umbrella—the BSPH program has eight. A Global Citizens course is a course that aligns with the university’s Global Citizens Project, of which global awareness, responsibility and participation are the hallmarks.


“So much of public health is global,” said Rusnak. “We already had all the pieces in place for certification. Getting the BSPH certified as a Global Pathway major was a slam dunk.” (Image courtesy of USF Health)

“Our global health courses have an international perspective,” Rusnak said. “But even the ones we offer that have a domestic focus can still be considered global. For example, when discussing health care in this country, we examine how people’s cultures and beliefs affect their experience within our system and the related health outcomes that follow. So even though this might seem like a domestic issue, there are global aspects to it as well.”

Participating in a Global Pathway major also gives students a leg up when pursuing the university’s Global Citizen Award and competing for the $2,500 study abroad scholarship. To be eligible for the award, students must meet certain criteria—one of which is taking a certain amount of approved Global Citizen-certified coursework.

One of eight courses meeting Global Citizens criteria offered to undergraduates by the COPH. (Image courtesy of USF Health)

“The certification definitely comes with benefits,” noted Rusnak, referring to the award. “There are countless ways in which our curriculum is global. Becoming a Global Pathway major acknowledges all the global perspectives COPH offers.”

Public health joins a growing list of programs—including anthropology, religious studies, social work and nursing—certified as Global Pathway majors. Others in development are geosciences, world languages and communications.

“I think so many students are interested in a career where they can make a difference and have a positive impact with the work they do,” commented Rusnak. “This certification increases our visibility and lets students know this a major that allows them to choose a field that makes the world a better place for all its global citizens.”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health

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