Promoting healthy behaviors, engaging communities, shaping policy.

The Gillings School's Department of Health Behavior is the home for Master of Public Health concentrations in global health and health behavior, as well as a dual master's degree and a doctoral degree. See all our degrees and concentrations.

Our students develop the skills they need to be community change agents for issues that undermine public health both locally and globally, including: violence, obesity, cancer, HIV, health policy and health disparities.

For information about returning to campus this fall, please visit the UNC Gillings Return to Campus Roadmap page.

Statement about Atlanta Shooting (03/18/2021)

We are again saddened and angry in response to the killing of 8 people in Atlanta, 6 of whom were women of Asian descent. The targeting of Asian women reflects how the lethal intersection of white supremacy and misogyny fuels violence against women; the killings also underscore the epidemic of gun violence in this country.

Unfortunately, this event is not isolated nor surprising. For the last year, including on the day of these shootings, the former President used racist language when discussing COVID-19, fueling a year of intensified anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes in the US. Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks and responds to incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, reported nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the US in the past year. Anti-Asian racism has transcended US history as evidenced by, for example, the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, Japanese internment during World War II, and anti-Muslim violence following 9/11. These histories remind us that our tendency as a society (and as a university) to consider Asians a monolith and to reinforce the damaging “model minority myth” both minimizes the role of that racism and negatively impacts the health and wellbeing of Asians and Asian Americans in our society.

Our department remains firmly committed social justice, human rights, and health equity for all. We also recognize that we have much internal work, reflection, and learning to do as part of that commitment. Please practice self-care, reach out to and support your colleagues who are affected, and reach out to us if needed.

Health Behavior Leadership Team
Clare Barrington, Doctoral Program Director
Shelley Golden, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Liz Chen, HB MPH Concentration Lead
Kurt M. Ribisl, Chair

Coronavirus Affects Everyone: The Department of Health Behavior Responds

Dr. Liz Chen and Hannah Prentice-Dunn, project manager for cancer intervention research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, are co-leading a task force to explore solutions to the emergency childcare needs of health care workers in the UNC health care system. The team is gathering information and resources, testing different solutions and making informed recommendations as quickly as possible to ensure health care workers have childcare coverage during school and childcare center closures — especially as the need for health care workers grows. The task force includes health behavior students Emily Newman and Kathryn Carpenter in addition to alumna Dr. Cristina Leos, co-founder of MyHealthEd, Inc., and Vichi Jagannathan, co-founder of the Rural Opportunity Institute.

An illustration from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals the basic form of the virus blamed for the outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.

Message from the Chair

Read about our research.

Our faculty and students are active researchers in North Carolina, across the United States and around the world, with many studies focusing upon these issues: community health, violence prevention, policy change, HIV/AIDS prevention and control, health disparities reduction, health communication, mHealth, obesity and diabetes management, tobacco control and health promotion in the workplace.

Keep up with what we’re doing.

Health Behavior Matters, our e-newsletter, can help you stay in the know.
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Learn about our history.

Established in 1942 as UNC’s Department of Public Health Education, ours was the first program of its kind in the United States.

Explore our Department