New minor to address need for ‘accessible, high-quality public health services’


Photo by Brian Stethem - Cal Lutheran University Photographer

Adina Nack, a scholar of sociology and specifically public health, will lead the university’s new Public Health minor.

Mikayla Galaviz, Reporter

California Lutheran University will launch its Public Health minor next semester. 

According to the course overview, the program was created “to prepare students to promote the health and well being of local communities within the U.S. and around the world.”

Professor of Sociology Adina Nack will serve as the director of the Public Health Program and provide ongoing support for students in the major. Nack has a background in public health dating back to the mid-1990’s and recently collaborated on a public health project with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

“The knowledge and skills learned in the Public Health minor will open new post-undergrad career paths and strengthen applications to medical school, [Physical Therapy] school, [Physician’s Assistant] school, nursing school, and other graduate degree programs,” Nack said in an email interview. “For example, students could pair knowledge learned in microbiology courses on infectious diseases with insights from community development courses to gain insights into how to create and implement public health policies.” 

This program has been in talks for about two years, Nack said. Cal Lutheran alumnus Garrett Mueller, witnessed these early talks, including a discussion with the dean back in spring 2019. 

“The bureaucracy of the school is very slow, and even though innovation is one of the pillar’s in the [university’s] Strategic Plan, it took unnecessarily long to authorize,” Mueller said in an email interview. 

Mueller said he believes Nack has the capabilities to successfully lead the program with trusted colleagues at her side. 

“Being that Dr. Nack is a public health sociologist by training, she is using her expertise and experience teaching in and leading the University Honors Program, which is interdisciplinary by design, to blend sociology, political science, biology, and many other studies into one minor,” Mueller said. 

Other key mentors in this program include Cynthia Duarte, visiting assistant professor of sociology and director of the Sarah W. Heath Center for Equality and Justice and Adjunct Professor Jennie Torti, who will be teaching California Lutheran’s first Intro to Public Health course.

With this new addition, students will be able to learn the importance of public health in our society and prepare themselves for a career in public health.

“This minor can address contemporary and historical public health challenges, and help students see beyond the visible troubles such as COVID-19, but also addressing health disparities among [vulnerable] communities, especially since CLU is a [Hispanic Serving Institution],” Mueller said. 

The public health minor was created with science and social-behavioral science majors in mind, but will adopt an interdisciplinary approach to give students a holistic picture of public health.

“Developing culturally respectful and effective health campaigns requires insights from sociology and psychology, in addition to the health sciences,” Nack said. “Our country, state and county have had health disparities which the current pandemic has only magnified, and the need for accessible, high-quality public health services is more important now than ever before.​