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New for fall: WSSU introduces minors in public health, urban studies

For 2018-19, WSSU is adding two new minor programs. (WSSU file photo, 2014)

Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) is rolling out new academic programs and classes for the 2018-19 academic year.

Among the new offerings are interdisciplinary undergraduate minors in the high demand fields of public health and urban studies and sustainability.

Public Health Minor

In response to a constantly evolving healthcare system, WSSU’s School of Health Sciences is introducing an undergraduate Public Health Minor.

The 18-credit hour interdisciplinary program, developed in collaboration with the SOHS and the College of Arts, Sciences, Business and Education, will begin this month.

"Winston-Salem State University is renowned for its strong tradition of community-based care and dedication to addressing equity and healthcare disparities," said Dr. Hayley Jackson-Figueroa, assistant professor in exercise physiology and program coordinator. "The new public health minor will support those community initiatives and provide students with the socio-behavioral and analytical frameworks to tackle challenging issues impacting public health."

Jackson-Figueroa said the minor will be beneficial for students in a number of WSSU majors, including: biology, political science, exercise science, social work, healthcare management and nursing, and will enhance students' applications or resumes for professional programs, graduate school, or employment.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, overall employment of health educators and community health workers is projected to grow 16 percent in the next decade, much faster than average. This is driven by efforts to improve health outcomes and to reduce healthcare costs.

The minor includes courses from nine departments, including: mathematics, biology, healthcare management and sociology. Jackson-Figueroa said one new course will be introduced this fall, Community-Based Health Planning and Intervention (HCM 3310), which will focus on  diabetes, a major health issue in the Triad. 

She said the long-term goal is to launch a bachelor's degree in public health.

For information on the Public Health Minor, please email Jackson-Figueroa at or 336-750-2420.

Urban Studies and Sustainability Minor

Starting this fall, WSSU will become the first HBCU in North Carolina and one of only three public universities in the state to offer an undergraduate program in urban studies and sustainability.

The 18-hour multidisciplinary minor includes courses in geography, biology, justice studies, economics and government.

“The new minor will strengthen many of the existing programs in history, political science, economics and sociology by exposing students to a wide variety of courses,” said Dr. Russell Smith, professor of geography and program coordinator. The program will prepare students for a professional career in urban studies and sustainability or for graduate studies, Smith said.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for urban and regional planners is expected to be in high demand, growing 13 percent from 2016-26. Similar growth is predicted in North Carolina.

Smith said 91 percent of employers in the Piedmont Triad who were surveyed recently indicated a new program in urban studies and sustainability was needed in the region. The survey also found that hiring managers are having difficulty finding qualified candidates who represent the diverse populations they serve.

“An HBCU like WSSU can help to fill the need and increase the diversity in urban planning offices,” Smith said.

He said the program also has received support from the North Carolina Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Smith said students from a wide range of majors – including, political science, history, justice studies, economics, and sociology – will benefit from the minor.

Students who are interested in the program may contact Smith at 336-750-8822 or

 Also new for the 2018-19:

Fall courses at WSSU start on Aug. 20.

WSSU offers more than 70 graduate and undergraduate programs, including 35 baccalaureate programs.

This is one of a series of articles highlighting what's new for the 2018-19 academic year at WSSU.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment. 

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