What is Public Health and Why Should I Care?

On April 26, Dr. Gillian Sealy, a public health expert, was invited by the College of Liberal Arts to give a lecture titled “What is Public Health and Why Should I Care?” Hosted by Dr. Mieke Bahmer, the lecture brought the students a new and in-depth understanding of public health.

Dr. Sealy’s lecture was both novel and relevant to life. Starting from answering the fundamental question, “What is public health?” the lecture immediately excited students’ curiosity. If public health is achieved by “the organized effect of society,” then what are the specific manifestations of these “organized effects”? How do they benefit the entire population? According to Dr. Sealy’s presentation, small things like the mandatory use of seat belts in cars, no-smoking signs in public places, installation of fire hydrants on streets, and vaccinations in childhood, are all examples of public health that we are sheltered from. Dr. Sealy’s use of these common but often taken-for-granted examples in our lives made students realize: public health is all around us.

As a field that permeates our life in all aspects, how is the career prospect of public health? Dr. Sealy gave a practical and innovative introduction on this issue. Guided by her encouragement, Dr. Sealy discussed careers in public health with students. In the end, students gained a better understanding of public health careers, from traditional career options such as environmental scientist and biomedical engineer to emerging careers such as food inspector and film and television consultant. The unique and unconventional introductions on careers were one of the highlights of the lecture.

At the end of the lecture, both Dr. Sealy and the students related public health to the COVID-19 era that we live in. They had a meaningful discussion about disease control as well as public mental health. Dr. Sealy noted that now that social isolation has become a necessity, mental well-being is more important than ever; public health, too, becomes particularly significant. By the time students walked out of the lecture hall, everyone had a more thorough understanding of public health.


Author ︳Tang Feng

Photo ︳Han Lu