Candace Robertson-James, DrPH; Serita M. Reels, MPH, MCHES; and Sara J. Shuman, Ph.D., MPH
Educational achievement is consistently associated with a number of positive health outcomes. It promotes protective health behaviors, reduces risk behaviors and is associated with self-reported health status. Moreover, education is recognized as a fundamental determinant of health and the promotion of health equity. However, racial and economic disparities in higher education persist. Collaborative models that integrate both public health concepts and practitioners can be useful to address systemic inequities in education and promote health. The social ecological model paired with Lasallian principles provide a useful framework for addressing inequities in higher education. This article presents a conceptual framework that uses key concepts from public health, including the social ecological model and social justice, to discuss the root causes of educational disparities and potential interventions that institutions of higher education can use to reduce these disparities. The constructs presented can inform strategic multi-sector partnerships, local, community, state and federal initiatives and policies as well as institutional programs, services and efforts to promote justice in higher education.
Keywords: social inequities, disparities, collaborative models, student success, socio-ecological model, Lasallian principles, faith, educational excellence, community, respect, justice
Candace Robertson-James, DrPh, MPH
Candace Robertson-James, who is an assistant professor and director of the master of public health program at La Salle University in Philadelphia (PA), earned her doctorate in public health from Drexel University School of Public Health with a concentration in community health and prevention. She earned a master of public health degree from MCP Hahnemann University (now Dornsife School of Public Health, Drexel University).
Serita M. Reels, MPH, MCHES
Serita M. Reels earned a master of public health degree from Drexel University School of Health, with a concentration in community health and prevention. She works at La Salle University in Philadelphia (PA) in the areas of grant manager, university ministry, and service and support.
Sara J. Shuman, Ph.D., MPH
Sara J. Shuman, who is an assistant professor and director of the bachelor of science in public health program at La Salle University in Philadelphia (PA), earned her doctorate in public health from Temple University with a concentration in social and behavioral health. She earned he master of public health degree from the University of Arizona.