The development of strategic initiatives for the College of Health and Human Services is a critical part of our efforts to enhance the health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities in Southeastern North Carolina and beyond. These focal areas will help us to accelerate an even more significant, positive impact upon health and human services, where our impact could be transformative in our teaching, research and service roles.
The following strategic initiatives are broad and cross-cutting, providing the opportunity for a wide range of CHHS, UNCW and UNC System faculty, students and staff to be involved. Moreover, moving the needle in these areas is dependent upon community engagement and partnerships. Finally, the strategic initiatives identified build upon our strengths, address community needs and stretch us in areas of local and global importance and responsibility.
- The Integration of the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences in the Health and Human Services
- Exploration of the impact of the Coastal Environment on Human Health
- Achieving Health Equity by serving and empowering Underserved Communities and Vulnerable Populations
- Defining Healthy Aging and Serving the Older Adult Population
- Addressing the Obesity Epidemic that has continued to spiral out of control
- Understanding and serving our Military Community – Veterans, Active Duty Soldiers and their Families
- Embracing Technological Innovations to advance Health and Human Services Education, Research, Service and Management
- Faculty Champion: Patty White
- This initiative focuses upon how we can integrate the arts and humanities in health and human services. This initiative will explore how we can develop curriculum, research and service projects that focus upon this integration. It is hoped that such a focus will result in collaborations within and beyond the CHHS.
- Faculty Champion: Jim Herstine
- This initiative focuses on understanding how living in the coastal environment impacts human health and life quality. Aristotle is credited with saying “Tell me how a man died and I’ll tell you where he lived.” Thus, place is an important factor in health and quality of life. When analyzing relationships between environment and health, it is of vital importance to consider a broader definition of environment, which includes not only the quality of the air, water and ground, but also, indoor air quality, food and the living, working, cultural, and social factors that are unique to coastal regions. It is also important to understand the growing body of scientific evidence revealing that the interaction of health and the environment is reciprocal. That is, the environment can affect human health and human health care can affect the environment.
Achieving Health Equity by serving and empowering Underserved Communities and Vulnerable Populations
- Faculty Champions: Dan Johnson and Jane Fox
- This initiative focuses upon health equity -- the realization by all people of the highest attainable level of health and wellness. Achieving health equity requires valuing all individuals and populations equally. Moreover, health equity entails societal efforts to address inequalities by assuring the conditions for optimal health and well-being for all, particularly those who have experienced historical or contemporary injustices or socioeconomic disadvantages (Troutman, 2009). Thus, health equity focuses upon the social justice, human rights and social determinants of health and well-being and how we can “fulfill society’s interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy” (IOM, 1988).
- Faculty Champion: Stacey Kolomer
- This initiative focuses upon advancing the study of aging and promoting healthy aging for older adults in Southeastern NC. This initiative will seek to develop an interprofessional collaborative of scholars and practitioners to explore aging in all its facets.
- Faculty Champion: Wayland Tseh and Art Frankel
- This initiative focuses upon the obesity epidemic in America. Obesity is one of the most complex and costly health concerns facing Americans. According to the CDC, more than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese. Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death. In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight. Translational obesity research that moves scientific discoveries into positive health outcomes is now a global priority. The goal of this strategic initiative is to facilitate interdisciplinary research and interprofessional education and practice that address biomedical, social, economic, and environmental aspects of obesity.
Understanding and serving our Military Community – Veterans, Active Duty Soldiers and their Families
- Faculty Champions: April Matthias and Stephanie Smith
- This initiative focuses upon serving and partnering with our military communities located in Southeastern NC. Military service has touched most American families; over 30 million Americans living today have served in the military. Today’s active-duty military is very different from the military of 30 and 50 years ago, when the military relied on the draft for personnel, and warfare required more troops. Today’s military is also grappling with social trends and social change including, but not limited to, posttraumatic stress, the role of women, the well-being of military families, and the transition back into civilian life.
Embracing Technological Innovations to advance Health and Human Services Education, Research, Service and Management
- Faculty Champion: Steve Elliott
- This initiative focuses upon advancing our understanding, adoption and use of technological innovations in health and human services. A recurring theme in discussions of how to improve education, research and practice in health and human services is the hope that technological innovation will provoke leaps in the quality and efficiency. The objective of this strategic initiative is to develop and/or employ technology products and processes to yield sustainable and disruptive innovations that meaningfully improves the experiences of our students, faculty, and staff and enhances the health and quality of life of individuals, families and communities.