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Community Health Sciences


Program Overview

Who We Are     

We are an interprofessional, transdisciplinary group of educators, researchers, practitioners, students and staff dedicated to promoting health equity as a social justice imperative. We focus on the role of fundamental biopsychosocial determinants of health across populations and through the lifecourse, toward improving and sustaining population health and well-being. We are committed to developing, enhancing and using evidence-informed approaches in the planning, designing, implementation, and evaluation of public health interventions and innovations. These interventions occur at multiple levels (individual, family, community, policy, systems) and across multiple populations and sectors.

To effectively carry out our community and population health improvement mission, we collaborate with communities, public health agencies, research partners/networks, government and nonprofit organizations.

What We Do

Our Division facilitates a dynamic learning community committed to developing a skilled public health workforce and a new generation of community and population health scientists.  Our research, education and service endeavors operate within the context of a world class city and provide public health expertise for the people of Illinois, the nation and globally. Our reach extends through leadership in federal projects, national / international collaborations, and our broad alumni and practice and research networks. 

Our partner collaborations emphasize mutual learning, cultural humility, capacity building and sustainability. Prevention for both individual and community-level health promotion are at the center of our work and are demonstrated in our research, education, advocacy and policy efforts.  The inherent complexity of a community and population health improvement mission requires a lifecourse and ecological perspective, which informs our research, practice and education/teaching. Social justice is an overarching framework informing the ethos of our work; and we adhere to national principles of ethical public health practice and research.

Our work employs applied public health science. We effect change along a continuum of factors impacting human health, individual health related practices, family, and organizational change at both the policy and system levels.  Our work requires mixed methodologies and collaborations with traditional and nontraditional research partners as well as community stakeholders. Our applied focus involves translational research and leads to broad-based dissemination of innovative public health interventions. We also develop theories of health behavior and systems change. Our teaching mission includes partnering within academia as well as with practitioners to seek their expertise.

We Impact Community and Population Health By

  • Building capacity and enabling policies and systems to be more responsive toward advancing and protecting health and well-being.
  • Leveraging our diverse partnerships to maximize our impact.
  • Building and sustaining long-term relationships with communities.
  • Improving community health through faculty, student and alumni leadership in practice, research and policy, directly translating science downstream to improve population health.
  • Preparing graduates who are ready to apply public health skills and knowledge to effectively address community problems across diverse, multi-disciplinary contexts and settings.
  • Developing, tailoring and disseminating evidence-informed health promotion interventions to prevent and address chronic diseases and enhance the quality of life.
  • Developing, collaborating and contributing in policy and advocacy across multiple systems.



‌Dr. Arden Handler is the Interim Director of the Division of Community Health Sciences in the UIC School of Public Health, and the Director of the Center of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health. Dr. Handler’s research career reflects her long-standing commitment to improve the health of women, children and families, with specific interests in exploring the factors that increase the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes and examining ways in which the health care delivery system, particularly how prenatal care, postpartum care, and preconception/interconception/well-woman care can ameliorate these risks. Other research and teaching interests include maternal and child health advocacy and policy, building the analytic capacity of the MCH workforce (MCH epidemiology), and the structure and functioning of the public health delivery system. Dr. Handler is a founding Board Member of EverThrive (formerly the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition), co-chair of Illinois’ subcommittee on the Social Determinants of Health as part of the Collaborative Improvement & Innovation Network to Reduce Infant Mortality (CoIIN), co-chair of the Postpartum Transitions subcommittee of the Illinois CHIPRA initiative, and member of the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (SACIM). She is a nationally renowned leader in maternal and child health advocacy, policy, epidemiology, and public health system improvement.


Community Health Sciences offers a variety of degrees for aspiring practitioners, professionals and researchers.  Visit our degrees page to learn more about our programs.


Members of our faculty are currently involved with impactful research projects. Such projects include a training project that will provide a comprehensive public health graduate MCH training, which fosters interdisciplinary approaches to problem solving, incorporates cutting-edge conceptual models for understanding and responding to health problems, supporting the use of evidence-based decision-making, and providing skills to translate data into information and action.

Another project involves evaluating the feasibility and impact of introducing youth-centered match support practices into the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) community-based mentoring program. The youth-centered match will be grounded in a conceptual framework of “youth thriving” within adult-youth relationships.

Learn more about the research conducted at the CHS Research webpage.

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