News, Science & Research

University expands role in National Public Health Week

School of Public Health helps organize events on gun control, obesity to educate community

Senior Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Under the Dean of the School of Public Health Bess Marcus, Brown has increased its efforts to promote public health and educate the community. This week, the school planned activities for National Public Health Week, which included symposiums, poster sessions and advocacy events aimed at educating the Providence community about the many facets of public health. Though the event has taken place for many years under the American Public Health Association, this is the first year that the school planned events for the entire week, as opposed to only organizing a Public Health Research Day as in previous years.

Brown’s renewed involvement is part of Marcus’ effort to highlight the school’s work in the community. “I’m a new dean, and I really wanted to call attention to all of the great work that our students are involved in, our faculty are involved in and what we’re doing as a community,” Marcus said, adding that she hopes to raise the school’s profile. “We focus on research, we focus on teaching and education and we focus on service to the community, and this week is about celebrating all those parts,” she said.

The school hopes to educate the wider community about public health as well. “It’s really a great opportunity for the School of Public Health to reach out to the greater Brown community and the greater Providence community to really put on these fantastic events that celebrate public health,” said Meghan Gonsalves GS, a health communications scholar who worked to promote this week’s events.

Notable events for the week included a panel on tobacco use, an event addressing obesity in the United States and a healthy cooking demonstration.

On Tuesday, a public art project entitled “One Gun Gone” advocated for gun control by displaying art pieces with weapons to raise funds for a buy-back program and further aid families affected by gun violence. “Hearing personal stories from students and people who have been affected by (gun violence) is really compelling,” Gonsalves said, adding that “to see the guns in an art form of wax and glass rather than hard metal is a very interesting way to view it.”

One of the busiest days of the week was the Public Health Research Day, where undergraduate and graduate students prepared posters to present their own research. “Research day is the culmination of all of the activities and interests students have in research,” said Director of Public Health Communications Karen Scanlan.

Students wrote abstracts and created posters to present to peers, other researchers and faculty. “This is a fantastic opportunity for students to push their research and get involved with teaching others about what they do,” Gonsalves said. She added that she hoped presenters would also gain confidence and form connections with other researchers in the field, a key goal of the week.

Marcus said she hoped that the event would spur future research. “They’re the next generation. They’re going to take all that we’re doing forward,” she said.

Though the week focused on public health, it aimed to encourage people of all concentrations to take part as well. “This week is for everybody. Public health touches every single person’s life in some way because it’s how we act, what we do, our health and everything that affects an individual,” Gonsalves said.

Marcus hopes that events like these will continue to grow in the near future. “This is really just the beginning of what we’re hoping to do,” she added. “You’ll see more partnerships with other programs at (Brown) … and us partnering with more of our community partners in coming years.”

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