Fri May 4, 2012
UW-Madison to offer dual degree in law and public health
Only a handful of universities in the U.S. offer a dual degree in law and public health. This fall, UW-Madison will train students in both programs simultaneously.
Law and public health intersect in many ways. For instance, food safety. Sickened consumers have sued producers and manufacturers. The law also plays a role in protecting patient privacy. Another example in which law and health come together is health reform which is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. The dual program starting this fall at UW-Madison will combine juris doctor and master of public health degrees. The co-director is Sarah Davis, a clinical assistant professor of law, "Students were already creating these degrees on their own. We've only had the public health school for a couple of years and students said, 'Let's formalize this.' We know there's a need, employers are asking for this level of expertise."
Davis calls public health law an emerging field. She says it deals with the power of the state and understanding some of these issues surrounding community versus individual rights, "For example, a public health department would really need a legal perspective when they're thinking about a vaccine program, when they're thinking about bioterrorism there's so many different areas that public health influences."
The UW says the legal system has played a critical role in some of the past century's health achievements involving motor vehicle safety, tobacco hazards and fluoridation of drinking water.