UVA Launches Pan-University Minor in Health, Wellbeing

Six schools across the University of Virginia have joined forces to create the University's newest minor for undergraduate students. The "Health and Wellbeing" minor allows students to actively obtain knowledge in the full scope of disciplines represented in the integrative concept of health and wellbeing.

Understood as more than the absence of disease, the concept of health and wellbeing combines elements of genetic, biological, psychological, behavioral and social practices and processes.  UVA students eager to expand their knowledge base in all of these areas will have access to classes in the Curry School of Education, the College of Arts & Sciences, the School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Architecture and the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

"Linking the scholars and scholarship across these schools reflects an opportunity rarely seen across the nation," said Arthur Weltman, professor and chair of the Curry School Department of Kinesiology. He also chairs the minor's executive committee, which includes Ruth Gaare Bernheim from the School of Medicine, Randy Jones from the School of Nursing, Adam Leive from the Batten School, Rachel Most from the College and Jennifer Roe from the Architecture School.

While it is well-understood that a variety of factors contribute to health and wellness, students are rarely introduced to the topic from that wide spectrum, Weltman said. Instead, they are often pushed to focus on a singular area, such as physical wellbeing or psychology.

"This new minor is an innovative response to both students' desires and current science," he said.

One goal of the program is to engage students in obtaining relevant knowledge that provides a deeper and more expansive knowledge base for graduate study in a specific discipline, while at the same time promoting intelligent decision-making that can improve their quality of life, Weltman said.

A second goal is to amplify the curriculum for students who wish to work in the health or mental health professions (perhaps as physicians, psychologists, counselors, physical therapists or other types of health or mental health service providers) or plan to be engaged in designing healthy environments or contribute to public policy related to health and wellbeing.

During their coursework, students will take courses in three major domains. In the Physical Health and Wellbeing area, students will take courses on exercise science and nutrition in the Curry School and the College.

In the second area, Emotional/Mental Health and Wellbeing, students will take courses covering topics such as psychology, the science of happiness, mindfulness or substance abuse offered in the Curry School, Nursing School and the College.

In the third area, Health Policy and Healthy Environments, students will take courses such as "Healthy Cities" or the "Psychology of Environment and Space" in the School of Architecture, "Global Public Health" or "Health Impact Assessment" in the School of Medicine's Public Health Sciences department, and "Health Care Politics and Policy" in the Batten School.

Luke Kelly, a professor in the Curry School's Department of Kinesiology, will serve as the faculty coordinator for the new minor. Application deadlines and details about the 19-credit minor academic program.