Report to Community 2016

Continuous Innovation (1996-2005)

Doug Wilson, Former Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry

The mid-1990s was a period of great innovation in our history. In 1996, after further restructuring, the Department of Public Health Sciences was created. Tom Noseworthy, then chair, led the department with a new vision for public health research and education. That same year, the master of public health (MPH) program was launched.

“We started small with only one specialization—health policy and management—and 15 students,” says Felicity Hey, graduate programs administrator at the time. Over the next 10 years, additional specializations were offered, including occupational and environmental health, clinical epidemiology and global health. “As demand for our programs grew, as well as a broad interest in public health, we increased our offerings to meet the need.”

At about the same time, conditions were ripe for introducing a research and graduate education unit with a central focus in health promotion at the University of Alberta. 

The idea arose following the First World Conference on Health Promotion hosted by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1986. An outcome of the conference was the Ottawa Charter, which defined health promotion as "the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve their health.” Across the country, a groundswell of support existed for this new perspective on the health of Canadians.

According to Art Quinney, then deputy provost, “We wanted to establish a unit with a multidisciplinary focus in health promotion.” Doug Wilson, who chaired the planning committee, notes, “We saw an opportunity to accomplish together what we could not do separately.”

The Centre for Health Promotion Studies was established in 1996. In keeping with the vision of an interdisciplinary research and education centre, three faculty members were recruited and cross-appointed from the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry; Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences; and Physical Education and Recreation. That same year, the Centre launched a thesis-based master of science (MSc) degree program and a postgraduate diploma program. 

The next year, the MSc program was available to students on campus and via distance delivery. In 2000, programs were expanded to include a course-based MSc degree.   


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