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Albright College Adds New Majors in Urban Affairs, Public Health

Feb. 4, 2016


Reading, Pa. – Albright College has approved a pair of new interdisciplinary and complementary majors in Urban Affairs and Public Health, to be offered beginning in fall 2016.

Recognizing the vital role that cities play, the Urban Affairs major will explore urban growth and development, the history of urbanization, and the economic, political, cultural and social influences on and of the city. Students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to tackle poverty, economic inequality, racial segregation, damage to the natural environment, crime and corruption, and other pertinent issues.

Albright’s proximity to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and New York, as well as its location in the mid-sized city of Reading, will provide numerous opportunities for hands-on learning and partnerships with local governments and organizations. The new major will also work closely with the Center for Excellence in Local Government at Albright.

“The Urban Affairs major is designed to promote public service and civic engagement, and our hope is that it will launch socially and environmentally relevant careers by encouraging students to address the most significant problems of contemporary times,” said associate professor of sociology Kennon Rice, Ph.D., director of the Urban Affairs program.

Urban Affairs, which will be housed in the sociology department but will draw from academic disciplines across campus, will provide a foundation for students interested in pursuing careers and advanced study in community development, urban planning and design, public policy, and administration of public and private agencies. 

The major was developed in consultation with the University of Delaware’s graduate School of Public Policy and Administration (SPPA), and with Albright alumnus Danilo Yanich ’68, who serves as director of SPPA’s graduate programs in urban affairs and public policy. Since 2013, Albright has had an agreement with SPPA, in which Albright graduates may receive streamlined admission to select SPPA master’s programs.

Recognizing that public health education is a powerful and relevant way to shape the intellectual and civic capacities of undergraduates students, the new Public Health program is a co-major intended to provide students with a stepping stone to a variety of careers in government, nonprofit and private-sector work, and to advanced study in public policy, urban affairs, business, economics and law.

Housed in Albright’s political science department, the co-major has been developed with active participation from faculty in the biology, history and sociology departments, as well.

“Every day we see the central role that public health plays in our lives; one need only look at the water supply in Flint, Mich., and the alarming spread of the Zika virus in the Americas,” said Irene Langran, Ph.D., chairwoman and associate professor of political science. “Albright’s new Public Health program will bring together students and scholars from a range of backgrounds to tackle some of the most pressing issues of our day.”

The Public Health program was created in consultation with Thomas Jefferson University’s College of Population Health, as well as with Reading Hospital and with a former vice president of the American Association of Colleges and Universities who co-authored national reports on undergraduate public health education in a liberal arts context.


Founded in 1856, Albright College is a selective, national liberal arts college enrolling 1,700 full-time undergraduates and more than 800 adult learners and graduate students. The College’s flexible interdisciplinary curriculum, strengthened by a close-knit residential learning environment, encourages students to combine majors and disciplines to create individualized academic programs. Close faculty mentorship, numerous experiential learning options, and a diverse, supportive community of scholars and learners help students exceed their own expectations and graduate with a commitment to a lifetime of service and learning. Albright College is located in Reading, Pennsylvania.