Public Health


Public health seeks to improve human health through the development and application of knowledge that prevents disease, protects the public from harm, and promotes health throughout local communities, the state, the nation, and the world. The field of public health confronts complex health issues, such as improving access to health care, controlling infectious disease, and reducing environmental hazards, violence, substance abuse, and injury.

Through the Public Health Minor at Occidental College, students develop and apply knowledge from multiple disciplines for the promotion and protection of the health of the human population, giving due consideration to principles of human rights and cultural perspectives that abound in our multicultural country and world. The minor, like the field itself, is interdisciplinary. Students will learn about the scientific aspects of disease as well as the political and policy issues involved in improving people’s health and well-being. The minor is jointly administered by the departments of Biology, Kinesiology, and Urban & Environmental Policy (UEP), with course offerings from multiple departments.

Minor Requirements

Five courses are required to complete the Public Health minor.


Core Courses

UEP 203Introduction to Public Health


BIO 238Epidemiology



BIO 268Biostatistics



MATH 146Statistics



Two additional courses from the list below:

HIST 274Medicine and Disease in Western Society


HIST 277Women and Community Health


KINE 104Introduction to Kinesiology


KINE 304Human Physiology


KINE 308Diet, Disease, and Exercise


PHIL 250Bioethics


PSYC 334Health Psychology


SOC 320Health and Illness


UEP 201Environmental Health and Policy


UEP 248Global Public Health


UEP 249Public Health and Human Rights: Global and Local Practices


UEP 307Public Health Practicum


*Each elective course selection must be from a different department.

As new courses develop, more options may be added to this list. Students will be strongly encouraged to participate in internship, volunteer, or research opportunities within the field of public health (e.g. UEP 307) before they graduate.


Regular Faculty

Peter Dreier, chair

E.P. Clapp Distinguished Professor of Politics, Politics, Urban and Environmental Policy

B.A., Syracuse University M.A., Ph.D., University of Chicago

Sharla Fett

Associate Professor, History; Advisory Committee, American Studies

B.A., Carleton College; M.A., Stanford University; Ph.D., Rutgers University

Nina Gelbart

Professor, History

A.B., Harvard University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Chicago

Alan Knoerr

Associate Professor, Mathematics, Cognitive Science

B.A., Oberlin College; Sc.M., Ph.D., Brown University

Krystale E. Littlejohn

Assistant Professor of Sociology

A.B, Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University

Lynn Mehl

Professor, Kinesiology and Psychology

B.S., M.S., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Clair Morrissey

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

B.A., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; M.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Stuart Rugg

Professor, Kinesiology

B.S., University of California, Davis; Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Bhavna Shamasunder

Assistant Professor, Urban and Environmental Policy

B.S. /B.A., UC San Diego; M.ES. Yale University; Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Kerry Thompson

Associate Professor, Biology; Advisory Committee, Biochemistry; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.A., M.A., Ph.D., UCLA

On Special Appointment

Heather Banis

Full Time Non Tenure Track Associate Professor, Psychology

A.B., Occidental; M.A., Ph.D., USC

Heng Lam Foong

Adjunct Instructor, Urban & Environmental Policy

B.A. College of New Rochelle, M.S. Capella University

Jane Schmitz

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Urban & Environmental Policy

B.A., UC Davis; M.P.H., PhD., UC Los Angeles

Nicole Vick

Non Tenure Track Instructor, Urban & Environmental Policy

B.S., M.P.H., University of Southern California

Jacqueline Valenzuela

Non Tenure Track Instructor, Urban & Environmental Policy

B.A., California State University, Northridge; M.P.H., University of Southern California