New Honors College course to examine root causes of poor health in Pittsburgh area

A new course at the University of Pittsburgh Honors College will investigate the root causes of poor health in the greater Pittsburgh area.

Pitt Nursing Assistant Professor Teresa Hagan Thomas, PhD, BA, RN, will develop a course entitled, Health and the City. Her course was chosen by the University Honors College Electus Faculty Fellows Program in March.

“This is a three-year program where I will design and teach this course in the Honors College, as well as provide enrichment opportunities for Honors College students and the community,” she said.

Health and the City will give students the opportunity to engage in service, scholarship, and research to better understand the health needs of the Pittsburgh community related to access to healthcare, poverty, mental health, criminal justice, housing and transportation, and food security.

“The Pittsburgh economy has switched from mills to hospitals, yet access to quality health care is still unevenly distributed among its residents,” according to the overview of the course. “Despite having two powerhouse healthcare organizations, large sections of the population lack the resources and access required to gain and maintain health. This inequality became starkly apparent during the COVID pandemic.”

Students enrolled in the course will have the opportunity to work with community organizations on a weekly basis. Through research, they will have the chance to help these organizations advance their mission in the community.

“The course will seek students from diverse backgrounds, including across disciplines,” she said. “While focused on health and healthcare, the course is intended to blend multiple disciplines interested in understanding and promoting healthcare, community, and well-being. Students from nursing, pre-medicine, public health, arts and sciences, and other fields will be encouraged to enroll.”

The course is still in the developmental stages, but Dr. Thomas said she’s hopeful to have it offered in 2023.