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 Hannah-Jones Tenure Case (6/21/21)

The Department of Health Behavior endorses the open letter to all faculty sent on Juneteenth by Dr. Mimi Chapman, Chair of the Faculty of the University of Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). We urge the UNC Board of Trustees to cease the unjustified delay of Ms. Hannah-Jones’ appointment with tenure and act promptly to approve. The UNC Board of Trustees’ actions in Ms. Hannah-Jones’ tenure review are undermining the academic appointment and tenure process and chilling academic freedom. The Board of Trustee’ actions are also damaging the reputation of North Carolina’s flagship university and leading to irreparable harms, including the decisions of several faculty of color to leave UNC.

Health Behavior Leadership Team
Kurt M. Ribisl, PhD, Jo Anne Earp Distinguished Professor and Chair
Shelley Golden, PhD, Vice Chair for Academic Affairs
Liz Chen, PhD, MPH, Health Behavior MPH Concentration Lead
Clare Barrington, PhD, Doctoral Program Director

Statement on the Verdict of the Derek Chauvin Trial (4/20/21)

Dear Health Behavior Department community,

For too long, our criminal justice system has failed Black individuals in our country. Today, we witnessed a step in the right direction, when a Minneapolis jury found white former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all three counts of second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Our hearts go out to Floyd’s family and friends who suffered immensely from the moment of his brutal death at the hands of law enforcement through a grueling trial. While we hope this verdict brings some sense of justice or closure to the Floyd family, continued efforts to reform the police and emphasize decarceration are needed.

To our Black students, faculty, and staff, we acknowledge the toll that pervasive oppression takes on your mental and physical health and recognize that the trial and verdict itself were likely stressful. Your health and wellbeing are of the utmost importance. The Chancellor, Provost, and Interim Chief Diversity Office sent an email with mental health resources this evening. Please practice self-care and reach out to any of us as needed.

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

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.

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