Fisher adds majors in public health, sustainability

St. John Fisher College is introducing undergraduate majors in public health and sustainability starting in fall 2019.

The sustainability major stems from the college’s Center for Sustainability launched last fall.

The public health major is tied to a growing demand for health-related jobs, said David Baronov, the sociology professor who will direct the program.

“Primarily it is the tremendous growth in terms of health care, in absolute terms and as a proportion of the work force,” Baronov said. “The public health piece is too often neglected.”

David Baronov, sociology professor at St. John Fisher College. Photo supplied.
David Baronov, sociology professor at St. John Fisher College. (Photo provided)

As hospitals and medical organizations arise or expand, they require administrators who understand more than simply business skills, he said. “With public health you have someone with the ability of some of the administration tasks, but also epidemiology, bio-statistics— the kind of grounding hospitals need in statistics.”

“Public health patterns of morbidity and mortality are pretty essential if you want to run a hospital or an AIDS clinic,” Baronov said.

Fisher already has programs that support careers in pharmacy, nursing and mental health counseling; faculty in those areas will be called upon to teach public health students. Sociology and other humanities and science teachers will be, too. Baronov estimated that eight to 10 courses will need to be added to the college’s catalog for the major, along with seminars in public health sections that can be added later as new public health majors move through the curriculum.

Students may enroll in the new majors next year, with an eye toward graduating in three or four years. Baronov said if any students currently on another track want to switch majors, the necessary courses can be lined up, including a small seminar group, as needed.

Michael Boller, associate professor of biology and director of the sustainability center, said students in that major will explore biology, business, chemistry, ethics and other coursework. They’ll also be required to complete a 140-hour sustainability project with a partner organization.

“There is an immediate need to understand sustainability because most organizations in all sectors now evaluate themselves along the dimensions of social, environmental, and economic performance,” Boller said.

Information on the majors is available by contacting the college’s office of freshman admissions at (585) 385-8064.

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