Public Health Solutions: Determinants, Disparities and Education Faculty Cluster Hire

The College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University seeks to hire seven faculty at the assistant professor, associate professor or faculty specialist I or II level to join a cohort that will build on WMU’s excellence in public health research and education. These positions will create new and enhanced opportunities for collaborative, interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary research, teaching and community engagement focused on public health solutions.

Public health solutions are of critical importance to help control the spread of infectious disease; guarantee the safety of food and water; ensure safe, clean environments; address health inequities; anticipate climate-related stresses on public health; and educate and empower individuals to improve their health (Citizen Research Council of Michigan, August 2018 Report 403). Public health determinants and disparities result from complex, interdependent physical, biological, sociological and cultural systems, as demonstrated by recent public health crises in Michigan including the massive lead contamination of drinking water in Flint, the emerging understanding of potentially widespread PFAS contamination, and the disastrous opioid epidemic. The cluster will seek solutions to these and other public health problems through collaborative, sponsored, community-engaged research that will improve our knowledge of public health determinants and our ability to improve public health and address public health disparities by rethinking public policies and practices to reduce inequities across populations, enhance environmental quality, and prepare a well-informed, culturally-competent healthcare workforce.

This cluster initiative builds on existing expertise at WMU in public health, public policy and management, social justice, environmental science, and discipline-based education research. Partnering units, in addition to the hiring units, include the College of Health and Human Services, home to WMU’s public health programs, the Western Regional Area Health Education Center, and top ranked health professional programs; the Spirituality, Culture and Health program, the Health Data Research, Analysis and Mapping Center; the Lewis Walker Institute for Race and Ethnic Relations; the Michigan Geological Survey; the School of Public Affairs and Administration; the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability; and the WMU Climate Change Working Group. Faculty in this cluster will also benefit from existing collaborations with local community organizations and initiatives including Shared Prosperity Kalamazoo; Healthy Babies Healthy Starts; the Fair Food Network of Battle Creek; Cradle Kalamazoo; the Kellogg Biological Station; the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department; and the Calhoun County Health Department, among others.

Seven faculty searches will be conducted in the College of Arts and Sciences in support of this faculty cluster initiative with tenure homes anticipated in the following units: