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Health Behaviors and Community Sciences

The College of Public Health of National Taiwan University established the Institute of Health Behaviors and Community Sciences in August, 2015. The objective of this institute is to cultivate professional talent with perspectives in social ecology and multi-level systems, the ability to change individual and collective behaviors, the capacity to conduct social interventions and assess their effects, and skills in translation and communication.
The Institute of Health Behaviors and Community Sciences is established in accordance with the core competence internationally required for the education of public health professionals and responds to needs of society in Taiwan. When the College of Public Health was first founded in 1993, an institute for social science research was already part of the long-term plans for the College. Almost two decades after the inauguration of the College of Public Health, the students and faculty at the Division of Health Promotion of the Institute of Health Policy and Management had accumulated adequate academic achievements and teaching resources to take the next step and form another institute with organization-level independence and disciplinary uniqueness for professional interdisciplinary research.
Over half of the annual deaths in developed countries are directly or indirectly caused by multiple behavioral factors related to globalization, technological development, and lifestyle choices. Behavioral factors are diverse and complex, requiring multi-level research from the individual to community ecology. Social needs and academic evolution all demonstrate the potential for behavioral and community sciences in future health and medical research. The goals of this Institute include (1) accumulating the knowledge of the impacts of environmental and structural factors on individual health behavior from the perspective of social ecology, (2) conducting community-based strategies to implement individual behavioral change, and (3) developing action-based empowerment strategies at community levels towards collective behavioral change. With skills on translation and social communications as tools, these show great promise to achieve the abovementioned goals.
The Institute focuses on cultivating professional talent with extensive knowledge and diverse skills. It emphasizes both theory and application, enabling students to conduct interdisciplinary research and plan community involvement and interventions. The curricular features include (1) focus on theory and application, (2) interdisciplinary training, and (3) the cultivation of students into crucial and leadership talent with the following core competencies: (i) the ability to analyze problems from the perspective of social ecology and multi-level systems, (ii) the knowledge and skills to influence individual and collective behavior, (iii) the capacity to implement community interventions and assess their effects, and (iv) basic translation and communication skills.
The Institute places emphasis on student-centered teaching to give students a full understanding of the characteristics of the health behavior exhibited by individuals, groups, organizations, communities, and society and the relevant factors influencing these behaviors. It is hoped that the training of health professionals in the perspectives of disease prevention and health promotion, the application of theories in social and behavioral sciences, and the planning and management of health intervention projects will enhance health awareness and self-care abilities in the public, thereby promoting healthy lifestyles.