Social Inequality, Health, and Policy Bridging Disciplines Program

STATEMENT OF OBJECTIVE: The Bridging Disciplines Program (BDP) in Social Inequality, Health, and Policy introduces students to the causes and consequences of the huge disparities in health, life expectancy, and medical care delivery that exist in the world today. Through the lenses of multiple disciplines, the BDP focuses on what national and local governments, as well as non-governmental organizations, can and should do to effectively reduce the most glaring health vulnerabilities. As part of the BDP, students will learn to investigate how large-scale demographic and social developments—including international migration, the growing numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons, changes in marriage and family patterns, and aging populations—affect nations’ population structures, the overall quality of life of their populations, and the evolution of their health care delivery systems.

Students in the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP may choose to focus their coursework on one of five suggested pathways:
1. Family and Fertility
2. Migration and Diaspora
3. Population Studies
4. Public Health
5. Social Inequality

An interdisciplinary faculty panel guides students in choosing courses and identifying research and internship experiences that allow them to explore population issues as they relate to their majors and career goals.

BDP certificates combine courses that fulfill core requirements, electives, and a limited number of courses counting toward students’ majors with unique research and internships. With planning, the BDP should not add time to students’ UT careers. Rather, the BDP certificates are designed to help students choose the courses they already have to take in an integrated way, giving them the opportunity to develop a secondary area of specialization.

Our goal is to have the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP approved for recognition on students’ official transcripts. We would like to begin recognizing the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP on official transcripts for students who graduate in Fall 2009. This change affects pages 21-22 of the 2008-10 Undergraduate Catalog.

NEED (EXPECTED DEMAND): There are currently 50 active students in the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP, and we expect 10-15 students to graduate with a Social Inequality, Health, and Policy certificate in the 2008-09 academic year. We expect that the program will continue to grow and could accommodate up to approximately 100 active students in any given year.

In order to earn a Certificate in the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy Bridging Disciplines Program, students must fulfill the following requirements:

44. At least nineteen credit hours of course work, to be distributed as follows:
a. Foundation Courses: Seven credit hours of foundation courses that introduce key concepts and methodologies related to the interdisciplinary study of Social Inequality, Health, and Policy. Students choose one course from each of the following categories:
i. Forum Seminar: BDP 101: Social Inequality, Health, and Policy; BDP 101: Health Inequality in Childhood and Adolescence; or another course approved by the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy faculty committee.
ii. Population Studies Course: GRG 309: Population Geography; SOC 319: Intro to Social Demography; SOC 369K: Population and Society; or another course approved by the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy faculty committee.
iii. Methods Course: ECO 329: Economic Statistics; EDP 371: Intro to Statistics; GRG 360G: Envir Geographic Information Systems; HDF 315L: Res Methods in HDFS; M 316: Elementary Statistical Math; PSY 418: Stat & Res Design; SOC 317L: Intro to Social Statistics; SOC 317M: Intro to Social Research; STA 309: Elementary Business Statistics; SW 313: SW Research Methods; SW 318: Social Work Statistics; or another course approved by the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy faculty committee.
b. Connecting Experiences: Six to nine credit hours of undergraduate research or internships that connect students’ Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP to their major field. Connecting Experiences are designed to be individualized based on the student’s interests and goals, and a variety of course numbers offered through the BDPs (BDP 310, 311, 320, 321) and in departments across the University may be used. All students must write a 3-5 page essay reflecting on the experience, in addition to the academic requirements specified by the faculty member supervising the student and assigning a grade. Examples of past Connecting Experiences completed by Social Inequality, Health, and Policy students include internships at the Texas Department of State Health Services; participation in the Population Research Center’s Research Experience for Undergraduates Program in Minority Demography; and individual research experiences focusing on such topics as international AIDS prevention and anti-poverty initiatives.
c. Courses in a Strand: Three to six credit hours of courses in a strand that allow students to focus their remaining BDP course work. Students may choose from among the following five strands, or they may design an individualized strand with approval from the faculty panel: Social Inequality; Public Health; Family and Fertility; Migration and Diaspora; Population Studies. The attached curriculum sheet for Social Inequality, Health, and Policy lists the currently approved courses for each strand. The faculty committee for Social Inequality, Health, and Policy approves new courses that may count toward the certificate each semester, and the committee may also approve student petitions to count unlisted courses on a case-by-case basis.
45. A 3-4 page integration essay in which students reflect on what they have learned and accomplished through their BDP experience. These essays will be reviewed by members of the BDP faculty panel.
46. Students must earn a grade of C or above in each of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements. All but one of the courses taken to fulfill BDP requirements must be taken on the letter-grade basis.
47. At least half of the required course work in the BDP certificate must be completed in residence at The University of Texas at Austin.
48. Completion of the requirements of a major.

Jacqueline Angel (Committee Chair), Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs
Shannon Cavanagh, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
Kelley Crews, Associate Professor, Department of Geography and the Environment
Henry Dietz, Professor, Department of Government and Center for Latin American Studies
Su-Yeong Kim, Assistant Professor, Department of Human Ecology
Laura Lein, Professor, Department of Anthropology and School of Social Work
Brad Love, Assistant Professor, Department of Advertising
Yolanda Padilla, Professor, School of Social Work
John Traphagan, Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies
Richard Valencia, Professor, Department of Educational Psychology
William J. Winslade, Professor, Institute for the Medical Humanities

The purpose of a student transcript is to serve as a comprehensive record of a student’s academic progress and achievement at the University. Students pursuing BDP certificate programs at UT Austin complete 19 credit hours related to secondary areas of specialization without receiving recognition for this work on their official transcripts. Recognizing the Social Inequality, Health, and Policy BDP on students’ official transcripts will represent a more comprehensive picture of these students' academic achievement at UT Austin.

It is in the interests of our students to list BDP certificates on official transcripts, particularly as they apply for jobs and for graduate and professional programs. In most cases, students pursue BDP certificates in order to develop a secondary area of specialization that enhances their major and gives them an additional professional qualification. For example, a student pursuing a certificate in Social Inequality, Health, and Policy through the Bridging Disciplines Program might wish to complement a Biology or Sociology degree with a certificate that demonstrates more specific knowledge related to public health. By recognizing this program on transcripts, we will help these students convey more effectively the full picture of what they learned and accomplished at UT.

Recognizing BDP certificate programs is also in the interest of the University, not only as a means of supporting students as they apply for jobs and graduate/professional school programs, but also as a means of recruiting new students and advising current students. From a recruitment perspective, the ability to combine a major with a certificate might prove attractive to prospective students, particularly those with interests in areas where UT does not yet offer a major. From an advising perspective, the option of combining a certificate with a major might help persuade students to choose majors more rationally, especially in cases where students have been rejected from their first-choice college or feel compelled to select multiple majors.


Approver: Paul B. Woodruff
Date: December 16, 2008
Title: Dean, School of Undergraduate Studies