The Place-Based Health concentration teaches individuals to apply place-based approaches to advance health equity in rural and under-resourced communities

The UNC Gillings School’s MPH Program in Asheville, located on the campus of the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville, N.C., will provide you with the knowledge and skills to engage and collaborate with diverse communities to promote thriving, healthy, connected communities for all. Through our Place-Based Health concentration, you will increase your confidence in developing, supporting, and sustaining collaborations that contribute to more equitable systems and better lives.

What You’ll Learn

The Place-Based Health concentration is delivered through the UNC Gillings School’s MPH Program in Asheville, located on the campus of the Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) in Asheville, N.C. Place-based public health centers people and their communities as the catalyst for transforming systems to promote wellbeing for all. Local residents, not institutions, hold the history, knowledge and ways of interacting with place. As such, a place’s inhabitants and institutions work in relationship, using interdisciplinary and participatory processes, to create and lead efforts to sustainably improve the social drivers of health and ultimately actualize health equity. Through our Place-Based Health concentration, you will increase your confidence in developing, supporting, and sustaining collaborations that contribute to more equitable systems and better lives. You will develop skills to:

  1. Assess, promote, and enact health equity in systems, organizations and communities.
  2. Learn place-based approaches through courses, field trips, guest panels of practitioners, hands-on experiences, and culminating team projects that help WNC communities.
  3. Practice transforming systems through problem-based learning, by assessing system dynamics and leverage points, clearly and persuasively sharing critical health information, developing and sustaining relationships, and informing policy makers.
  4. Support and engage in community transformations using community-based participatory research and action methods.
  5. Conduct research and evaluate programs to contribute to the knowledge base and advance public health practice.
  6. Deepen knowledge and awareness to lead transformation of self, public health teams, and change efforts.

Career Opportunities

Hosted by the Gillings School’s Public Health Leadership Program, the Place-Based Health concentration is designed to support professionals in all areas of public health practice at every level of leadership whether they are entry-level public health practitioners, program managers, evaluators, public health directors, executives, or someone in between.

In this concentration, you will develop the leadership skills needed to build strong relationships not only with members of your own team but also with leaders from other sectors, political parties, and disciplines.

Upon graduation, you will be prepared to:

  • Step into leadership roles in which you may work with interprofessional leadership teams, governing boards, and system partners.
  • Work as a program or organizational manager responsible for supervising teams that focus on community-based participatory research and multi-sector community collaborations.
  • Serve as a team leader in public health organizations and industries.

Required Courses

In addition to the interdisciplinary, 15-credit Gillings MPH Core, you will take:

  • PUBH 734: Place-Based Theory in Public Health
  • PUBH 736: Individual Transformation Applied to Public Health and Place
  • PUBH 737: Place-Based Research and Evaluation Methods
  • PUBH 738: Place-Based Community Transformation
  • PUBH 739: Place-Based Systems Transformation
  • PUBH 740: Implementation of Place-Based Theory and Design in Public Health

Concentration Competencies

This program will empower you with the knowledge and skills to achieve the following core competencies:

  • Analyze the concept of place in a context of key public health issues locally in Western NC and adapt these concepts to communities in state, regional, national, and global settings.
  • Integrate place-based sociological, anthropological, educational, economic, environmental, and other theoretical perspectives with public health practice.
  • Expand personal leadership skills to engage and motivate individuals, teams, and communities for health.
  • Design applied research studies to investigate a question of public health importance.
  • Apply the principles of community change models to support and promote healthy and safe physical and social environments and advocate for health equity.
  • Apply the principles of systems and design thinking in the framework of local health systems to promote health and social equity.

Requirements and Sample Plan of Study

Place-Based Health Degree Requirements and Study Plan (PDF)

Ready to Apply? Visit our Apply page for more information.

Want to learn more?

View the MAHEC (Mountain Area Health Education Center) website or contact someone listed below.

Scott Schindler
Student Manager
scott.schindler@mahec.net

Joe Jacobs
Academic Coordinator
mjj0216@email.unc.edu

Kristen Hurdle, MEd
Admissions Coordinator
kdhurdle@email.unc.edu

Concentration Leader

Sarah Brill Thach
Assistant Director, UNC Gillings Master of Public Health Program in Asheville
Assistant Professor, Public Health Leadership Program